Minneapolis label Words on Music is slowly becoming one of my favorite labels. The label features creative forays into slowcore, dreampop and shoegaze, while wrapping their releases in sharp packaging. From the exquisitely sublime self-titled release by Coastal, to Should‘s haunting A Folding Sieve, to The Meeting Places‘ dreamy Find Yourself Along the Way, Words on Music has quietly built up a reputation of being a label that releases innovative and high quality music.
With the release of British band Fiel Garvie‘s Leave Me Out of This, though, Words on Music may just have outdone themselves. The first thing the listener notices about this CD is the stunning packaging. Leave Me Out of This is encased in an 8 panel digipack, with attractive graphics and lots of information (including full lyrics) printed inside. You almost feel as if you’ve gotten your money’s worth with the packaging; it’s THAT good.
With all of this great packaging, the listener is left to wonder if the music would be a bit of a let-down. However, the music on Leave Me Out of This impresses the listener immediately. Driven by an immaculately-produced mixture of dreamy keyboards, drum machines, effects, guitar accents, live drums, and the unique vocals of Anne Reekie, Leave Me Out of This is a wonderful blend of dream and pop. Beginning with the sparse but lovely “B-Rock”, in which Reekie sounds strikingly similar to Bjork, Fiel Garvie wastes no time in presenting their ability to craft poppy yet experimental songs. Dream dark pop may just be the description for this CD, as time and again the band showcases radio-ready melodies and envelopes them in dark electronics and odd chord structures. No more is this more evident in the absolutely stunning song “Caught On”, which, in a perfect world, would be a number one song. Featuring an achingly breathtaking chorus bookended by chilling verses, and incorporating a multi-instrument assault on the ears, “Caught On” is pure candy for the ears. Other mesmerizing songs like the dreamy “Doortime”, and “I Didn’t Say” also showcase the band’s shiny melodies.
The approach Fiel Garvie uses in their instruments is deliberate and detailed. The band integrates smart guitar lines (using the guitar more as an accent), while building walls of sound keys. The percussion and bass lines are super-smooth, with the bass particularly reminding me of something Eric Campuzano (Cush, The Lassie Foundation, The Prayer Chain) would play. As a drummer myself, I also appreciate the nice tom work and other percusssion sounds used by the band, as in the aforementioned “Doortime”. All of these instruments could be a sonic mess, but the extremely clean production of Leave Me Out of This help to distinguish each instrument, while allowing them to blend nicely. It’s not surprising that the production is so excellent, since Phil Vinall (Pulp, The Auteurs, Elastica) lent his skills to the project as the producer. I’m a sucker for good production on a CD, and hearing such great sounds coming from a dreamy pop CD makes me giddy
However, even the pristine production, excellent instrumental arrangements, and often perfect songwriting may not be Fiel Garvie‘s distinctive. Instead, the band’s distinguishing mark may just come from Reekie‘s vocals. Sort of a sounding like a British-accented whisper, Reekie, for lack of a better phrase, makes love to the microphone with her voice. Every syllable, every consonant is deliberate and important to Reekie, and her passion pours through the speakers. Even now, as I listen to this CD at work, I blush a bit when others who are less open to music walk by, due to Reekie‘s sensual delivery. The band would be good with a different vocalist, to be sure, but Reekie gives the band an unmistakably distinct presence that is impossible to imitate
In short, by providing this release to North America, Words on Music has scored another major notch in our respect chart. Leave Me Out of This is an often stunning work of musical fluidity and grace, and the melodies featured on Leave Me Out of This are sure to echo in the mind of the listener long after the disc ends. Highly recommended. Hints of Sigur Ros, Bjork, Douglas Heart, Club 8, Mazzy Star, and Goldenwest-Era Ester Drang.