Death And Vanilla - s/t LP
Death And Vanilla are a Swedish haunted-pop duo who have found themselves caught in the vortex of retro-futurism circa 1969. On the one hand, they've got a good grip on the baroque psychedelia of the United States Of America, Free Design and even some of the more woolly tracks that Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg produced. On the other, they're keen on the whole library music phenomenon augmenting their songs with plenty of sparkling synths, crackling radiophonic samples, EVP recordings (yes, that is Raymond Cass coming through!) and tripped-out-to-space production tricks that would be right out of the Daphne Oram and Delia Derbyshire playbooks. There's even a track on this album called "Library Goblin"! If you might think all of this seems like the same strategy that Broadcast employed on their highly acclaimed collaborations with The Focus Group back in 2009-2010, you'd be pretty spot on. Even Death And Vanilla's Marleen Nilsson sounds an awful lot like Broadcast's Trish Keenan, with her breathy delivery and unexpected melodies which soar above the monochromatic lullaby of many of the songs. As sacrosanct as it may seem, Death And Vanilla rivals Broadcast in songwriting ability. Their cinematic pop gem "Cul-De-Sac" should be in the running for poptune of 2012 for sure with its complex interweave of harpsichord, vibraphone, fuzzed guitar, strutting basslines and shuffling rhythms all driven by the vocal harmonies. This transitions rather deftly into the far more experimental avant-pop number "Sombambulists" which drifts aptly towards a dreamy headspace of loping basslines and percolating synths all bathed in sound-dissolving reverb. The filmic references also abound on tracks like "The Unseeing Eye" and the aforementioned "Library Goblin" as sublimely revisionist '60s pop numbers with bubbly vibraphones and seductive vocals amidst electronic filigree and charming synth blorp, before disintegrating into an otherworldly interlude of ethereal radio noise and cosmic vibrations. As such, it's a pretty irresistible album for any fan of Broadcast, Ghost Box and Stereolab.