Monday, 3 November 2014

Springtime Carnivore: Springtime Carnivore

60s reverb is all over this album with an obvious nod towards everything else that was good about early 60s pop – up tempo beats, bright flowing harmonies, and lilting female vocals. While it could be classed as sunshine pop, it resembles more closely the musical styling of psychedelia but completely void of any drug infused influences such as wah-wah or chorus pedals (unless they’re heavily buried in the mix somewhere).
A number of sixties female vocalists can be detected, but most prominently Dusty Springfield might be the first that comes to mind. On songs like ‘Collectors’ and ‘Name on a Matchbox’ singer Greta Morgan never attempts to emulate these greats, but sings lines like “I’ve got your name on a matchbox, I need your face in the past” with her own relaxed but distinctive tones - with a non-intrusive whistle whistling out the chorus hook, this third track is easily one of the strongest songs on the record. ‘Sun Went Black’ charges through the door with full force deserving to challenge the popularity of anything by Lana Del Rey whose similar fusion of retro pop with contemporary production catapulted her into stardom. Springtime Carnivore is less reliant on studio tricks though, opting for a far more organic sound and a stronger sense of rhythm that would make anybody dance to the line “Living without you is no life at all”. ‘Foxtrot Freak (Something in the Atmosphere)’ signals a relaxed groove with the opening line “Smile, smile, shuffle, the pompom parade, we all danced backwards when the skies went all grey” taking us on a fun trip to the ‘Other Side of the Boundary’ where things seem to get a bit more complicated with strained emotions and suitably a drop out of instruments leaving just an acoustic guitar on the right and a strumming electric on the left supporting the vocalist up in the middle singing “Every time I ever tried walking to the edge, my tired heart would compromise and I would miss my chance. But I will run now. . .”
Keep Confessing’ belts out “I already know your secrets” like vocalist Greta Morgan is serenading us with a late eighties rock ballad by Heart, while ‘Last One to Know’’s kick drum and thin treble vocals hint at nineties alternative pop in the vein of The Cardigans Lovefool.
The album soars when it’s up-tempo and all instruments join in on what feels like a celebration of all the reasons for making music, but occasionally drags a little towards the end as the tempos move closer to setting-sun moods. ‘Creature Feature’ tries to rectify that but never soars as beautifully as the first three hit tracks, instead the album opts for a gentle goodbye with the solo keyboards of ‘Low Clouds’.

This is an album I like for its fullness without ever feeling like there is an over indulgence of nostalgia, though nostalgic it is – songs bathe in the glory of the 60s but with a strong sense of moving forward rather than backwards. Production is slightly below the more mainstream quality of Lana Del Rey, but still throws a punch when turned up. A strong début with catchy songs, appealing vocals, and an excellent sense of self.

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