“Silos” – ‘Déclassé’ & “La Roux” – ‘La Roux’
It’s getting near to the end of the holidays, and I suppose things are starting to ease up. I found myself in a state of ‘writer’s block’ the other day when it came to utilising my creative energy, it seems Highly Evolved gets the best of me these days. I apologise in advance to any and all teachers reading this review, my essays won’t be at their usual top-notch-standard. Coincidence, maybe?
Besides, I’ve been a little busy elsewhere, so the machine has been quiet, and the internet has been asleep as well. I’ve given the music scene the flick long enough for it to recover from my monthly harvest, and surprisingly, artists have bounced back into action and they’re pumping out albums like there’s no tomorrow. Again.
Today, I’m back to my usual duo-reviews, because I’ve found that, uncannily, as the albums mount, the genres stick together. Just a few weeks ago I was immersed in the poorly-strung-psychedelica scene where I was amazingly disappointed with all the albums I came across. And, during the great music-drought of 09, a large quantity of electronica and pop jumped out onto the scene to take its place. Salvaged from that wreck, “La Roux”, an album on its own not worth a review, but together with the more tasteful ‘Déclassé’, something worth me writing!
To be honest, I found this little gem last night. It’s simplistic, abstractly-drawn cover enticed me inwards, and I couldn’t help but think at the time that “Silos” might surprise me, and turn out to be another ‘When Saints Go Machine’. Hailing from the cold Finland, ‘Déclassé’ epitomise the European-pop movement at the moment. Although it mightn’t be headline news, or common fact for that matter, I find that personally, Europe stands as the pioneer for electronica, trance, techno and pop itself. Highly Evolved doesn’t necessarily focus too much on the futuristic-music-movement all too often, and I try to balance my reviews with acoustic and electric music wherever possible.
Genre-wise, I was delightfully-surprised to find that “Silos” has an awesome, massive shift from start to finish. It’s first song is nothing like it’s last, and ‘Déclassé’ is one of those rare bands that’s able to utilise elements from all affiliate-genres and put them together. You might be asking yourself:
“… But, hey? I’ve seen other bands do that before?”
But then I reply, quite candidly:
“Yes, you’ve seen other bands do that before; but most of them haven’t been that good at it, either.”
If it’s one thing we as human-beings like, it’s consistency, order and control. There are very few anarchists in this world – perhaps that’s an understatement – “… I know very few anarchists in this world…” and so the majority of neat-freaks out there can’t help but shudder at the thought of a genre-shifting album. ‘Déclassé’ say themselves that:
“… Their music itself [is like] synth-shoegazing-gothic-disco-pop.”
Now, I didn’t believe it when I read it off their www.last.fm site, but it summarises I think, the bare minimum that ‘Déclassé’ are playing with. There are others that scrape through, but it’s a list that’s not worth reciting, and an album that’s better listened to if we want to be nit-picky. I love it to bits, literally – each and every song will have you riding on the edge of your seat, or leave you on the flat of your back. The combination of pop’s edgy, catchy rhythms and lyrics combined with the elements of shoegazing and synth make this one of the most potent musical-cocktails I’ve ever happily endured!
We’ll start from the top, shall we?
“Days Of Confusion” opens for “Silos”, and the somewhat slow, but thrust-full beginning of xylophone, synth and acoustic percussion make for a simplistic tune that’s ever-so infectious. In tandem, the lyrics – “… this is the night we sing and dance and have no fear…” and the vocals here just melt into the music. Out comes the synth bass that explodes come the crescendo and the chorus. The balance between soft and loud is only made possible by that dancing xylophone, and it has to be the sole-driving force behind the entire track.
“… This is the future… and we’re a bunch of idiots… This is the future… illusions and plasma screens…”
Pop has the annoying ability to tie in pathetic lyrics with powerful music, that make for an average song. Here, we’ve got some politically-active lyrics with some ground-breaking music. And at a powerful 4:50, ‘Déclassé’ take you into their dreamworld called “Silos”. It all works in my opinion, and it’s my total and utter favourite for the entire album.
Following, is the just-as-beautiful “Default Values” and it begins with that same-sounding synth present in “Days Of Confusion”. After a while, I began to notice that ‘Déclassé’s’ sounding like an optimistic-version of ‘Interpol’: if only because the lead singer sounds strangely like him on the lows. Other than that, not much similarity elsewhere. The track draws you in with silence, and leaves you blown away with high-powered crescendo-chorus’ that were present in opener.
“A Man Of Instant Boredom” shows ‘Déclassé’ in another light, and it softly opens with an alternative/rock/goth that the rest of the album lacks in comparison with. The vocals are the only tie between songs as ‘Déclassé’:
“… takes you on a journey THROUGH TIME AND SPACE…”
If I were to look at this track on it’s own, it’s got the elements of shoegazing and post-rock that bands like Kyte and Engineers have. This difference shakes it all up, so the album never stays the same. It makes for some great entertainment, and I can whole-heartily agree that there is nothing “Silos”has that shouldn’t be where it is. I know I’ve said in the past some albums have strayed from the path a little, “Silos” does it so well, it’s an exception unto itself. From start to finish, a solid play-through, definitely worth your money. A well-earned 4.5 stars outta 5. A warm-welcoming album for my return to music-reviewing!
“La Roux” has been sitting in my PENDING folder for about a month and a half, another European pop band, ‘La Roux’ has the fundamental basics for making it big in the mainstream world:
Girl + Sex Appeal + Pop Music = $$$ In Excess…
It’s mainstream-101, and sadly, it’s the cause for some loathsome music – Britney Spears and the likes. If you can beat those mainstream-dogs back with a stick, you should just about make it clear from the rabid world of shobiz. It’s not everyday that I come across such a strong, female-vocalists. I find them in the likes of ‘The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’, although they’re not a personal favourite; she’s got strength, she’s got power and the songs have momentum. ‘Metric’ had it in “Fantasies”, and although both these bands were heavily rock/alternative, ‘La Roux’ have the potential for much more that this one-dimensional pop music.
The lyrics aren’t much to rave about, and with this day and age as it is, pop is one of a few genres that evolves with the progression of musical capabilities; if it can, it’s vocabulary limits words to three syllables or less, as well. So, “La Roux” has the typical synth-and-voice duo, layers or repetitive loops, on the odd-occasion, some vox-voice-alteration, altogether with the vocals which punch through to reign supreme. Where “Silos” progressed through its varying genres, “La Roux” will be a heavenly-change for all those neat-freak listeners/readers who enjoy a continuous, seamless album without hiccups. For those of you who might be expecting “La Roux” to come parading in with a new era of pop, think again.‘La Roux’ just about epitomises pop of the current generation, and it’s one of many representatives for this mutagenic-genre.
From the top: “In For The Kill”, also ‘La Roux’s’ prior single I believe, has an infectious beat, to-die-for vocals, and an unfound intimacy that I find lacks in some of the rest of “La Roux” itself. The lyrics – “… We can fight our desires… ooooooooohhh… but when we start making fires… we get ever so hot… ooooooooohhh…. whether we like it or not….” They’re simple, quick-to-the-point, and for an opener, and for pop, it tops at 4:09, which is slightly tedious and repetitive.
“Tigerlily” follows, and out comes the power of singer ‘Elly Jackson’. Here’s where she comes out from the stereotypical pop vocalist, and becomes unique. It mightn’t be easy to pick out the difference, but together with the emphatic beat, it’s what attracted me to the album on a whole; what can I say, I like the power!
“… Have you ever felt like you’re being followed, or watched the ones that held your stare, turned around to see who’s behind you to find there’s no-one there? Lurking in the dark, cause someone breathes you night and day, there’s a friend that wants sooooo much more… and if they can’t have you, they’ll never let you walk away…”
… Are the chilling, somewhat overly-raunchy lyrics from a male-vocalist [yet to be identified], that made be break out in laughter after I heard them; yes, I am weird.
There are 12 tracks that follow the same equation the first and second have, and if you’re into this kind of repetition, it’s not too bad to keep on going. “La Roux” can sometimes pull out a surprise here and there, and I like that kind of thing. I wouldn’t be too hasty in buying it, however – I’d give it an average 3 outta 5 stars, because ‘Elly Jackson’s’ voice is so refreshing!
The Enantiomorphic God