by Ian Mann
October 25, 2006
The brooding presence of Beard is the band's most unique component. Her cajoling, whispering voice and dark, enigmatic lyrics make the band stand out from the crowd.
This mini album is the work of Charley Marlowe - a London based band who have developed something of a cult following. The band draw on numerous musical sources for their inspiration. There are elements of warped folk and skewed pop underpinned by hip-hop beats and electronic embellishments courtesy of drummer Frank Byng.
The five songs on this recording are written by singer and acoustic guitarist Piers Faccini with lyrics by co-vocalist Francesca Beard. Faccini and Beard share the vocal duties pretty much equally so that each song is a duet. Beard’s sensual vocals half sung, half spoken are unsettling and disturbing and coupled with Byng’s electronic effects do much to establish the slightly sinister atmosphere of the songs.
The opener “Limo” has a distinctly urban feel with Byng’s implacable hip-hop groove supporting a strong pop melody and the enigmatic vocals of Beard and Faccini.
The title track is more folk influenced complete with Faccini’s Bob Dylan style harmonica. Despite the gentle pace and the sing song chorus Beard’s lyrics and vocals mean that the song still retains a tangible atmosphere of hidden menace.
“Replace” sees the band cranking up the guitars and rocking out. The young Catalan guitarist Lucas Suarez comes into his own here on electric guitar. Musically this is the heaviest, most rock influenced number on the record. Sexually charged, this is reminiscent of an art rock version of Garbage.
“Six” is gentler but touches all the bands bases, pop, folk and electronica. Their characteristically melancholy, slightly ethereal atmosphere remains firmly in place.
The band has cited Nick Drake as one of their influences. The simple folk melody and rueful air of the closing “Shining Star” recalls Drake’s approach.
Clocking in at just over twenty minutes this is a fascinating introduction to the world of Charley Marlowe. At times they can be too self-consciously “arty” but their blend of folk, rock, pop, hip-hop and electronics is full of promise. Occasionally they remind me of the “trip-hop” of Portishead but with more of a folk influence.
The brooding presence of Beard is the band’s most unique component. Her cajoling, whispering voice and dark, enigmatic lyrics make the band stand out from the crowd. They clearly have great potential and with their pop sensibilities there is a possibility of breaking into the mainstream.
However, I must end on a note of criticism. Beard is a published poet and sometime spoken word performer. With this in mind surely the CD packaging should have included her lyrics. As a listener this would certainly have enhanced my enjoyment of a highly promising piece of work.blog comments powered by Disqus