Monday, December 13, 2010

SOPHIE'S PIGEONS "Names and Pictures"

Following on from debut EP “Say Play Sway” in May 2008, here this December is the debut mini-album from Sophie’s Pigeons, both released on “Manchester’s finest imprint” Red Deer Club . At six tracks in length “Names and Pictures” only adds one more song to the number on that earlier EP. And EPS released earlier this year from Sufjan Stevens and British Sea Power had more than double the running time of this mini-album. But rest assured there is nothing meagre about “Names and Pictures”.

These six shiny gems are a plentiful showcase of the sophisticated maturing of the quartet’s piano-pop sounds, to the extent where first song (and single) ‘Monkeys Trunkle’ opens with wheezy harmonium/melodica and pit-a-pat drums. OK the the ivory-pounding does come in later but it is a neatly fitting component rather than the grandstanding lead instrument.

A more settled line for the band - Beckie Davies on saxophone, Charlotte Holroyd on bass, Philip Sykes on percussion in addition to Sophie Nelson on vocals and piano – has clearly helped deliver this rounded group sound. Given its title ‘Impatient’ could have been shrill piano-hammering belter. Instead is a model of restraint, sassy and sexy. ‘Elevating’ is a frenetic sax-beeping ska-hop which barely pauses for breathe in its fleet-footed three minutes. ‘Boys and Girls’ is all elegant syncopation and poise before giving way to the tribal pounding tension of the furious ‘It’s Gonna Bite’. This final song pushes the pop envelope the most but despite Sophie Nelson sounding like she is promising physical violence when singing “it’s going get better” it is still fits the record label description of this album “as a collection of six hit singles”.

Indeed the pop-sheen sparkle – and breathy sexiness – of Sophie’s Pigeons on show here could easily pass muster on a Radio 1 playlist - taking pot-shots at Marina and the Diamonds et al. but “Names and Pictures” possesses a depth and edgy sophistication that should appeal to a broader audience. If you care about intelligent pop or have previously pigeon-holed (ouch) the band as shrill or kooky you should really make time to listen to this record. And congratulations to Sophie's Pigeons for concentrating on producing quality over quantity.

Impatient - Sophie's Pigeons by FollyOfYouth

Sophie's Pigeons Names and Pictures [BUY]

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