Moulettes – Constellations
This is an amazing and inspiring record. Working in relative obscurity until their Navigator Records deal for this, their third album, the band somehow play electronic pop without being all electronic and folky flavours without being all folky. At some points they channel the spirit of Kate Bush playing the works of Arcade Fire with Fleet Foxes’ harmony work. At others they are inimitably themselves.
The opener, Glorious Year, sells the whole album, a swooping, poppy headrush with trippy lyrics. It is the sort of thing that could only be put together by musicians fusing different styles. Track two, Constellations, is trippy dance inflected with folk, marching drums tripping and stumbling speedily. Lady Vengeance is like a trip-hop murder ballad. So It Goes streams the worldview of Kurt Vonnegut amid tumbling harmonies and divine melodies. Land Of The Midnight Sun should make most folktronica bands give up, knowing they can never come anywhere nearly close. And the chorus will be in your head for days. The Observatory could have been sneaked onto Kate Bush’s The Dreaming without noticing the seams. For this reviewer, managing to reach the pop / art peak of The Bush is about as high as praise gets. The closer, Keep It As A Memory manages to be a classical chorus piece, a trippy prog work and a rising folk adieu at the same time, whilst rising to an epic, sustained finale.
There is an archness, a dramatic cabaret feel at times; The Night Is Young has elements of Brecht, Leonard Cohen and Robb Johnson to it but sung with a fine and moving female lead. There is bringing up to date of traditional voices not dissimilar to the Unthanks (who also feature here) and being on this modern folk label is like being anointed as heritors to bands like that and Bellowhead. There are orchestral passages here and other elements of prog here, without any sense of it being “serious”, it is just enthralling and fun. The music is complex and rich; it cannot ever be background – you will find yourself turning to it and nudging the volume up a bit. Then I challenge you to get the hooks out of your head later.
Crossover record of the year – if you don’t wonder at this creation you might be dead.