Sharks Took The Rest
Too Late For Logic
, August 2nd, 2012 10:27
The spread of those accursed Mumfords, that Marling and the rest of their vanilla ilk has left us with an air of vacancy. A sense that a load of bluster about songwriting doesn't actually need to be backed up with a memorable tune – never mind a solid LP's worth of them. More often than not there's little left to remember from last years Next Big Musical thing than a faintly nauseous tidemark of over enthusiastic inky reviews, a slot on a London-centric arts show and the idea that the song can easily play second fiddle to what people have said about a record rather than the record itself. Sometimes it can seem like the idea of the verse-chorus-verse song itself has been infected by this creeping beige malaise. Cue the musical antibiotics. The debut longplayer by Sharks Took The Rest, Too Late For Logic, is a rare thing to find in a climate that seems to have so little love left for actual delivery of the goods. The album is also a literally rare thing, as this North of England sextet have self-released this initial run of the album.
A strings/piano/voice fronted chamber-pop/folk collective, Sharks Took The Rest are a many splendored melodic thing and this is a sweetly delicate pop record with a bruised but mighty heart. Too Late For Logic comes with all the aural jigsaw intricacies of the band's collaborative players/parts and the pitfalls that a band this size can sometimes fall into are sidestepped with ease. Where too many players can sometimes produce a swampy mess of competing parts or become too well organised around a signature sound, here there is a balance of a genuine lightness of touch with a stamp of identity. All twelve songs are distinct but not in a Screamadelica mixtape of genres, more in the sense of the song having an individual idea of itself; of an actual story or personality. From the gentle rolling piano lines of 'Ancestors' to the push and pull of 'Sleeping Conniptions' and its nods to drum and bass, Too Late For Logic feels like the songs were painted sparingly. While the group's centre is undoubtedly the exceptional vocal of singer/songwriter Beccy Owen, this is no attempted jigsaw fit of singer with perfunctory players. Sharks Took The Rest feel like an entity.
Owen's vocals are at once daydreaming lost and knowingly aware of their humour, twists and turns, and this is best exemplified on 'Restaurant'. While the universally known 'Theme from Cheers' might extol the benefits of going where “everybody knows your name", the string-sinewed folk pop of 'Restaurant' sees Owen “wanna go where nobody knows me". Taking a break from all her worries, finding a “liberty in sweet anonymity" seems like it sure would help a lot, especially if she finds the joy in the song in her life as she playfully unstitches her name from her own life. Whilst it does share a title with a Björk song, 'Isobel' could well be the best song that Björk never made (and looks very unlikely to at her present rate), falling at a star point between Post's open to everything aesthetic and Medulla's butterfly wing sensitive electronics/vocals. The song is a controlled and gentle tumble of emotions, the background electronics like the eyelid flicker of a caterpillar's warmest summer daydreams. The song's tiny lungs swell and fall with whispered breath; Owen singing about the marvel of gestation binds more than just tissue to bone but also new-born stranger to doubter.
If anyone needs proof that there's a talented set of pens at work, then take three minutes 18 seconds out of your day for a listen to 'Bring Her Back'. Both as a lyric and music it's warm but pensive, a cross-fingered take on waiting for someone to turn up and a fear of loss. It's about the razor's edge that lies between a person uncontrollably emptying your insecurities and doubts out at their own feet like so much spilled guts and the fact that someone is merely stuck in traffic two minutes away. The song is a slow spread of rolls and swells of cello, so understated that even the record's climax is something held close to its chest for fear of shattering the tension. And if there's a better closing line in a song this year, I'll eat my hat and then the waistcoat/cravat combo of every single Mumford I can find.