Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Elia & The Low Tears - 'The Reprieve' Rainbow Reservoir - '400 Imperfect Rhymes' EP (New Releases)

Elia & The Low Tears – The Reprieve (Released Aug 25th)

Few single press releases contain specific reference to lyrical content; fewer still divulge any direct lyrical influence. So when Elia & The Low Tears state the lyrics to new single ‘The Reprieve’ have been informed by Jean-Paul Sartre's novel of the same name we confess to being a little intrigued. After all; this is a book that that deals with life in France leading up to the Munich Agreement, the agreement that allowed Nazi Germany to annex large parts of Czechoslovakia; and you shouldn’t need reminding what happened next.

With this information, newcomers to ETLT’s music could be forgiven then, for thinking we’d be
reviewing a dark brooding single etched with fear and panic, but far from it.  The synths and electro percussion are reminiscent of Vince Clarke’s early Yazoo days circa 82/83, whilst Elia’s understated vocal weaves successfully through the bleeps and arpeggio lines to pleasing effect.  It’s not as infectious as the jubilant ‘Violins’ that first brought them to our attention, but worthy of your time all the same.

Be aware though, that taken in isolation the electro accents of ‘The Reprieve’ show one facet of a band who also draw on pop, soul and RnB;  even Joni Mitchell is referenced. Balancing those ingredients is not always going to be easy or even successful; but as Sartre said “Commitment is an act, not a word.”


Rainbow Reservoir - 400 Imperfect Rhymes EP

Music can bring people together like no other art form; it can also be divisive, dividing generations and tribes and so shall and should it always be.  In a Microcosm, Rainbow Reservoir has achieved this very feat in the Eartwister office. It’s left to me then, to attempt to settle the dispute.

There’s a childlike quality to the melody construction that not only makes you feel you could tap them out on a one octave glockenspiel with ease, but also renders them strangely familiar. It’s here that we find our divide, as there is no doubt that many will find this melodic approach too twee. Others however, will cuddle up to its familiarity and cradle it like a newborn.

Personally, I have no problem with the latter, but can’t help feeling the cause is deeply wounded by double-tracking the lead vocal, it simply bleeds the character from Angela Space’s voice. Laid bare as in the lilting ‘Blue Crab’ it’s like a cross between Nico’s ‘Femme Fatale’ and Suzanne Vega, and all-the better for it. . If only opener ‘City Bike’ and the otherwise catchy ‘Siegfried! Oh, Siegfried!’ had been given similar treatment.

This is lo-fi pop folk that embraces imperfection, with Space’s off-kilter perspective on travel, romance, life and death providing the palette for her carefully crafted lyrics. It’s the sort of music that craves vocal honesty; one good microphone, one great performance (warts-and-all), a touch of reverb, done.


My failure to settle the office dispute suggests Rainbow Reservoir’s music will continue to divide opinion with equal passion; for an artist not necessarily a bad thing. Love it or hate it, just don’t say it’s alright. 


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