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Shiver-inducing folk-pop from Irish newcomer
Peter Murphy, 07 Jul 2009
Now don’t let that happy-go-lucky have-guitar-will-travel stargazing and freebooting routine fool you for a second. New Boots, Wallis Bird’s second record, is ferocious stuff.
Having heard and liked Spoons (despite its origins in an area of music I’m not necessarily crazy about, that is, rock-school chops squeezed into the singer songwriter confessional), what I’d hoped The Bird would do next was focus and refine the groaning armoury of styles and sounds at her disposal, funnel these heterogeneous-elements-yoked-by-force-together into the paradoxically liberating limits of a killer pop song.
She’s done that here and more.
Yes, the opening brace of tunes utilise the first album’s template – rhythm section pyrotechnics, heavy strumming in 6/8 time, jazz-scat and majorly PO’d vocals (Ani with a hint of PJ). But as the album unfolds it reveals formidable colours. Oh, the colours. The Bird’s remit is Catholic enough to encapsulate FM folk pop, Buckley and Morrison as well as Mary Janes rock monster dynamics.
So, the single ‘To My Bones’ skates and slides across a maze of time signatures, but is driven by a truly exuberant melody and frenetic acoustic figure. ‘An Idea About Mary’ is a colossal crie de coeur that finds our heroine pleading “Just give me back me”, while ‘When We Kissed’ is an unabashedly love-struck (“pucker up I’m going in”) and upbeat ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ swoon with Philly strings. Likewise, ‘La-La-Land’ is catchy and armour-plated, notwithstanding a brief white reggae interlude that was probably fun in practice but on record only slows up the show.
Which, to be fair, is a rare occurrence. Anyone surprised by the jugular-grabbing nature of these recorded performances hasn’t seen The Bird live. At a live show, indifference is to Wallis as raw meat is to rottweiler. She’ll take your love or she’ll take your hate mwa-ha-ha but she won’t take no for an answer. Consequently the energy levels exhibited here make many of the local acoustic toters look like the dope-doped and hangover-slow hobbits they are.