Rosie Tee

Night Creature

Birmingham psychonaut moves in a tighter, more pop-focussed direction, finds Will Salmon

Birmingham-based psych explorer Rosie Tee steps out of the shadows on Night Creature. A prodigious multi-instrumentalist and composer, Tee has recorded several previous EPs – including 2021’s brilliantly strange, ecologically-themed Earth, Embrace Me In – but Night Creature feels like a more coherent and pop-focussed collection.

The Birmingham connection can’t help but bring to mind the similarly adventurous – and forever missed – Broadcast and there’s certainly a connection there, both in the precise vocals and psych inflections. Vanishing Twin, too, feel like fellow travellers, though Tee’s work feels lyrically stormier and more troubled.

Opener ‘Lectern’ dials in on a discordant synth melody before giving way to wordless sighs and a jazzy drum pattern from percussionist Kai Chareunsy, whose expressive playing is a highlight of the record. “This can’t be it, just talking shit / this can’t be it, just talking, talking,” Tee despairs in staccato breaths on a song that seems, perhaps, to be about the loneliness of online communication. The track’s initially vaporous arrangement explodes around the halfway mark into something more full-blooded as Tee’s dispassionate vocals become a roar.

That mid-song transition is something of a staple on the record. ‘Wishbone’ leans into an intimate folk sound and setting as the song’s protagonist sees “through hedgerows flicker / the final rays of the sun” before committing to some arcane ritual and burying a wishbone beneath a house – at which point, with an orchestral swell, the piece blossoms. Waves of sound and Piera Onacko’s synths crash around the listener.

The title track is more direct, a raucous dancer somewhat reminiscent of Welsh psychonauts Islet. The song opens on Tee’s isolated vocal before proceeding to add layer-upon-layer of sound – a bouncing bassline, skittering percussion, and a rattling synth-line all join the throng as the song collapses into a jazzy breakdown.

The second half of the album leans a little bit darker and more nocturnal. The vapourwave soundscape at the start of ‘Where We Go’ conjures a teary-eyed after-hours limbo as Tee sounds suddenly both more seductive and regretful, lingering in the unease of a couple frozen in a moment of crisis. Lyrically, ‘The Dogs’ continues the folkloric themes (“I sit upon the devil’s back / clouded in the words he spouts / from his sour breath / songs of loneliness”) and most resembles some of Tee’s earlier work as she wields the power of both a dynamic orchestral backing and Dan Cippico’s urgent bass.

Finally, ‘Unravel’ nods towards dub with its creeping pace and reverbed drums as the singer delivers her most nakedly emotional vocal over a cathartic wall of sound. As it climaxes, Tee seems to take a step back, letting herself be swallowed up in the glorious colours and textures summoned by her band, totally at home in the glorious chaos.

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