ALBUM REVIEW: Say Lou Lou – Lucid Dreaming (2015)

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This article first appeared on The AU Review.

Everybody knows I have a thing for Scandinavian indie. Swedish indie exports are at an all-time high at the moment and leading the assault are quality acts like electro-pop duo Say Lou Lou. Despitespending well over 90% of their time in Stockholm, it’s also interesting to note that twin sisters Miranda and Elektra Kibley-Janssen are one-half Aussie. It’s only minimal I know, but in their latest effort Lucid Dreaming, there’s something inherently ‘Triple-J-esque’ about it all and on first listen I’d be proud as all hell to claim even 1% of it as Australian made.

Kicking off the ordeal at a mountainous high is the single “Everything We Touch”. Released late last year in early anticipation of Lucid Dreaming, the track is complete with deep, brooding verses that build up tastefully into a chorus that’s hard to deny. It’s a powerful song that shows a rock-solid belief in their abilities, leading with the words “everything we touch turns to gold”, and pushing that notion well into the final seconds of the track. Often an album is summed up in it’s first couple of songs. If you tend to fade by track two or three you can say goodbye to my interest, I’ll buy the single. Luckily for Say Lou Lou, I bought into that confidence in the first track because song two, “Glitter” isn’t much to write home about.

You’ll be happy to give this album more than one try, because as soon as “Games For Girls” kicks in you realise the previous track is an anomaly and the rest is hard to put down. This single hit some waves among the blogs of the world because of it’s noticeable difference from the rest of the Say Lou Lou collection. It’s a look into the potential these guys have for dance hits, carrying a steadier, upbeat tempo that could be evident in something like an RAC or Miami Horror remix. “Beloved” treads along the same path as a lot of the other tracks on this album, but it’s a cracker of a song. It’s an uplifting electronic ballad that hits a beautiful peak as it reaches each chorus with heartbreak personified through melancholic vocals.

“Wilder Than The Wind” has something hugely nineties about it. Like a whispered, indie take on Mariah Carey or something like that. Maybe not exactly, I wasn’t too in tune back in those days, but you get the drift. The beat drags a bit in the verses, so much that it can sometimes feel like the rest of the elements should be playing catch up. It’s one of those rainy day songs that might only feel right for a listen if the mood fits.

Their most recent single, “Nothing But A Heartbeat” is where this album truly takes a swing in a whirlwind of pop brilliance. An epic, breezy tune that is dark, but oddly affirming. I guess you could say that for a lot of the singles on this album. Others that came previously on the album like “Angels (Above Me)”, or “Julian” have a similar vibe. Dual vocals permeate these tracks, bouncing between catchy falsetto and solid stand-your-ground type melodies. Like an impressive con, Say Lou Lou play their audience throughout Lucid Dreaming with a sneaky seductive underlying, while being well aware of the fierce confidence they bring in all of their lyrics and melodies.

The album bows out on “Skylights”, one of the more straight forward arrangements on the release. It’s a nice, easy way to go out, laced with enjoyable vocal melodies that chug through at the forefront of a slow-tempo beat and locomotive like synth. It has that outro feel that most tracks do when they’re placed lucky last on an album, and is simply put the logical way to finish this album.

Lucid Dreaming is an appropriate name for this effort by Say Lou Lou. Like a dream, the album is an up-and-down experience. Some of it is powerfully vivid and the other feels half-awake. It’s largely sequential and hazy, streaked with some impressive vocal work ranging from deep and finite to masterfully thin. Where the album shines brightest is when bordering on mainstream pop. The singles like “Nothing But A Heartbeat”, “Games For Girls” and “Everything We Touch” are stellar highlights that will stick in your head, whereas the rest get pigeon-holed in the realm of emotionally meaningful, but not memorable. Overall, it’s a quality album that deserves at least a week or two straight of repeat playing.

*****

7.8 out of 10

Lucid Dreaming is out now in Australia via iTunes and for stream on Spotify.

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Jack Garratt releases Synethesiac EP

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British singer, songwriter, musician and producer Jack Garratt releases his latest EP entitled Synesthesiac via Interscope Records this week.  Synesthesiac is currently available for digital download through iTunes and Spotify. Synthesthesiac was produced by Garratt and features his previous single “The Love You’re Given,” plus three new tracks, “Chemical”, “Synesthesia Pt. 1” and “Lonesome Valley”.

Garratt hasn’t made it to Australia yet, but has enjoyed a bit of play on Triple J following some huge praise in the UK after his debut Remnants EP, which also racked up over a million plays online and led to several sold-out shows in London. “Chemical” received its first airplay in the U.K. on influential BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe’s show.   Garratt’s powerful songwriting and incredible vocals have led to numerous festival appearances including this summer’s prestigious Reading and Leeds festivals in the U.K.

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Cosmo Sheldrake – Pelican We

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This track by Cosmo Sheldrake is proper weird as fuck, with intricate slithering film-scape style intros and lyrics documenting a love for pelicans. But at the same time, it’s actually kind of cool as fuck. The whole 4-track “Pelicans We”, is an eccentric piece of work to say the least, coming from the young songwriter and musical experimenter and I thought I’d give it a whirl for those of you out there with very specific tastes.
Although this is my first experience with the artist, Cosmo Sheldrake has seemingly had a pretty darn impressive 2014, and looks to continue that this year with the new release. His sold-out debut 7″ single picked up support from the likes of Radio 1, NME and The Guardian as well as reaching #1 on the Hype Machine chart and surpassing 650,000 plays on SoundCloud. He has also rubbed shoulders with some pretty impressive cats, including supporting the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club, Johnny Flynn, and Sylvan Esso, besides opening for the Mystery Jets at the Barbican. He has played sold out shows in Paris, Berlin and London.
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Kid Astray – Still Chasing Nothing

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Maaaan, I have yet to be more impressed by a new-ish band in 2015 than I am with this Norwegian powerhouse of indie brilliance. Kid Astray have since released the amazing “It’s Alright”, although I had to go back and check this one out.

“Still Chasing Nothing” reminds me of Australians Tim & Jean, or in a looser way, Passion Pit without the falsetto vocals. It’s got a huge beat and pace, synth pulsating through the middle keeping the vocal melodies in check. in 2015, it’s hard to dislike anything this band have released and I’m very much looking forward to a release later this year.

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Golden Coast – Take You Away

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Golden Coast have proved themselves by now. With only single releases to date, we’re still awaiting that all important debut EP or LP yet to be determined, but for now we’re content. Their latest single release is the bright and chirpy “Take You Away”, spouting out fountains of happiness and bubblegum-like melodics all throughout it’s business.

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Gang Of Youths – Radioface

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I’m getting the vibe that Gang Of Youths are the latest hot topic on the Australian scene. Lots of coverage from the boys at Triple J, including an epic cover of LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” for Like A Version recently. They’ve been releasing a bunch of new singles in 2015 so far, with the damn sexy epic “Radioface” shining bright and getting a lot of attention from the right people.

Melancholic vocals are a staple of this outfit, and they cling to the body of this track like a spider web. Lurking throughout the track is this very eighties rock style that seems to shake its origins and become an entity in itself. Straight forward guitar parts plug safely within it all, but it’s really the emotive energy that makes this one pop. All I can say is that the hype is well justified and we’re very excited to see what else the Gang has got.

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Sly Fox Will Be The Home Of Sydney’s Latest Indie Club

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…And they’ll be kicking it off with a bloody brilliant line-up on Friday the 24th of April. Some of Sydney’s finest local indie acts will be gracing the stage at Enmore’s Sly Fox  on the debut of music PR Agency Rare Finds’ indie night. Pop afficionados Jenny Broke The Window are the headlining act for this first instalment, dishing out their seriously sick brand of happy-go-lucky, old-school tunes. If that wasn’t enough for you, also on the bill we’ll see locals Food Court, who nailed a cool little set supporting Catfish And The Bottlemen earlier this year, as well as Hedge Fund and Winston Surfshirt, with their slick brand of seasoned, funk-like indie.

The Rare Finds night is set to showcase a curated line-up of Australia’s most-promising emerging talent on the last Friday of each month. Rare Finds has been operating since 2011, with some of the coolest talent to hit Australia in the last few years, including personal favourites The Griswolds as well as Millions. The show is FREE, so there’s no reason not to go…

FRIDAY APRIL 24 | THE SLY FOX, ENMORE NSW
Jenny Broke The Window, Food Court, Hedge Fund, Winston Surfshirt
Free Entry | 8pm

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Reptar – Easier To Die

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Reptar are back seemingly out of nowhere with their latest LP, Lurid Glow, delivering some more of that obtuse sound they’re known for in the indie circles. Following some small successes from their debut effort Body Faucet, it’s hard to think that anything will top it, and first listens have us somewhat on edge.

There’s a few shining stars scattered throughout this piece. Tracks like the chirpy “Easy To Die” take the spotlight, bringing a pop edge to their odd vibes and give us something to properly sit back and enjoy. We’ve only really had a preliminary listen to the record and knowing Reptar like we do, it’s going to take a lot more than one listen to get into it. But once you do, you’re hooked for a very long time. If there’s a piece of advice to be attached to this band, it’s to take the easy to digest tracks like “Easy To Die” and get acquainted before diving into the bolder songs on the album.

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Japanese Wallpaper – Forces (Feat. Airling)

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I read a post yesterday announcing this new track from Melbourne kid Japanese Wallpaper, saying he’s still high school age. With a single sneaking into the Triple J Hottest 100 this year and collaborations with some incredible Aussie artists, this a seriously impressive resume for someone who may not have even written a resume in his short life.

The new track “Forces” is a breezy, seductive number with the free-flowing vocals of Airling pushing through with dreamy ambience. Japanese Wallpaper has been putting out these sorts of sounds over the past year to a solid reception from fans, peering his uniquely Aussie eye into the world of dream-pop and spinning gold from everything he’s touched so far. Suffice it to say, we cannot wait until he delivers his first full-length.

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Dalaro – Synthetic

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UK based Dalaro released the single “Synthetic” recently and it lives up to it’s name. Although being quite full-sounding, it’s got something slippery about it. It’s a very Beat Connection-esque sound they’ve got going on here. Tropical, or at least foreign sounding guitar melodies permeate the track from beginning to end, with whispy vocals a constant throughout. Even when they rise into the chorus, there’s still something a little hollow about the whole ordeal. Not a surprise given they’re named after a small part of Stockholm in Sweden.

I’d imagine live would be a whole other ordeal, with a hugely packed climax hitting towards the end of the track. It’s all a bit stunning and even more so exciting.

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