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Reviews

Trwbador
Several Wolves Aug Stone , August 19th, 2014 11:29

Deploying sparse components, Trwbador know how to construct a full-on listening experience. They create not just songs – from introspective electropop to soft folk, with much mingling betwixt the styles – but also a wide expanse of space for these to operate within. A grand sense of openness pervades, the music filling it as it pleases.

The outstanding highlight on their second album Several Wolves is 'Start Your Car'. It's pure cinematic cool with a seductive pulse, picture Ladytron in an opium-hazed driver's seat, propelling you around the bends of long urban tunnels, flashing multi-coloured lights as they speed by, all in slick, slow motion. There's an intelligent, purposeful use of backing vocals throughout the record, and here they're like night angels materialising and stretching across the ether. Along similar lines is 'Longing'; laid back and minimal, but nevertheless a heart pounding out – heard distinctly from somewhere within the murky swirling greys - a presence that cannot be ignored. The way these songs build is smmooooooooth. Trwbador have a knack for placing the right part in the right spot at the right time. Their style is not so much simplicity as uncomplicated, and these parts are indeed stylish.

The title track is all kinds of ace. What else would you expect from something called 'Several Wolves'? As throbbing bass cavorts around this shadowy supernatural dancefloor, a lone figure comes to grips with the prospect of extinction. It's worth noting the way Angharad Van Rijswijk's voice forges a melody. Peripatetic, aware of the possibilities, she knows there is much terrain that can be covered and pushes on to encompass this, without any trace of the agoraphobia that keeps others tied to smaller ranges. 'C02' rounds out the pure electro songs, more than half of its seven minutes taken up by a long held synth chord growing and disintegrating but when it kicks in it's pretty fucking badass. A pointed, cool chant of "All at sea oh, CO2 emissions" over what is the hardest, and most danceable (in its latter half), track on the record.

Trwbador's electro side is definitely their strong point, but that's not to dismiss the acoustic, folkier numbers (all of which contain some electronic elements). Opener 'Side By Side' is reminiscent in feel to Saint Etienne's Good Humor lead-off 'Wood Cabin'. Again the expansive vocal melodies and complementing backing vocals; amidst all the softly propelling "ba"s comes a series of subtle lovely "we know"s from 2:38 on out. There's a wonderful interplay between the hypnotic repetition of some of these choruses and acoustic guitar figures and the fact that where verses would usually repeat themselves in form, Trwbador offer entirely different musical sections. "Inspired by Welsh folk music, Minimalism and Eastern European hip hop" single 'Breakthrough' features ESSA aka Yungun talking about the importance of keeping the right attitude and altitude.

The album hangs together as a whole with each song portraying a different theme of the human condition. These are most obviously seen on 'Come To Me, Tomorrow' and 'Pictures'. The sunny refrain of the former's dreampop deals with procrastination, while 'Pictures' jagged backing voices and main vocal line evoke a panorama of communication, with the two briefly coming together on the beat to offer more than one point of view. 'Blue Minds', with its male/female vocals, is the most traditional folk melody on the record as well as the most traditional love song. Closer 'Love And Folly' sees the guitar moving to more chordal territory and, along with the vocals, this brings Astrid Gilberto to mind, a reference point one sensed Trwbador were moving towards at other points throughout the record.

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