Olive Grove Records 22 July 2016
Ette, as in Ronettes or Marvelettes, is Carla J Easton’s songs, dressed up in synths, multi-tracked vocals and echo, to capture the essence of big pop. Girl pop. It is symbolic of the project that it is released on pink bubblegum vinyl.
Unfortunately, after a fabulous opener, the Motownish Attack Of The Glam Soul Cheerleaders, it is gently downhill. That opener channels a late-sixties flavour of pop. Travelling different eras of girly pop or, more accurately, applying the spirit of girly pop to different technologies, the results are hit and miss and depend on your devotion to the transcendent idea of the perfect pop record. Bonfire, the second track, fails to ignite the heart, despite its clever use of a siren effect and a dash of dubstep. Next up, Bird In The Sky, uniting the simplistic synths of Suicide with the aforementioned Shangri-Las type pop has some success. Other songs, like the smasher, I Hate You Song, trawl similar eras. This one is a distorto-ballad hymning the love/hate dichotomy in a little-Scots-girl voice. Fireworks is a soul-baring ballad, traversing the mid-sixties and coloured with synth-horn and that same little vulnerable voice. Heaven Knows skips along and opens the heart to another boy she loves. My Mother Says fills space with a confessional. Birthdays passes by and Bones is unremarkable. Spending Every Christmas Day With My Boy perks up the ending with a Spector-esque production (so far as possible) – plenty of chimes, bells and castanets.
It is clear that this is a duo album, since the arrangements are the form the songs take and Joe Kane from psyche outfit Dr Cosmos Tapelab deserves full half the credit, if not name. The medium is the message and there is no doubt the studio work makes the songs what they are. I don’t often say this, since I love simple and lo-fi, but this album would benefit from a Phil Spector dressing it up in strings, big shapes and real instruments. You might want to pick up the opener (single) and closer and wait for the duo to find the big sound they are clearly in search of.