Electrelane - The Power Out
The four members of Electrelane are all females, but thankfully, their musicianship is as far removed from The Spice Girls and Atomic Kitten as any one band could manage, and their second album, The Power Out, is easily one of the most inventive British albums to be released in the last twelve months.
The Brighton band upped and left our shores for Chicago, where Steve Albini, legendary producer of Nirvana’s In Utero, helped the band record and mix the long-player to startling effect. Whereas Electrelane’s debut album Rock It To The Moon was praised for acting as a non-incidental cinematic instrumental cauldron, the band follow it by dissecting their initial persona to craft a collection of songs that buck every mainstream convention.
The Power Out certainly won’t appeal to everyone, but those that are sucked in by its unorthodox charm will evidently be cherishing this album for months on end. If describing a band’s album is formed by using other bands as adjectives, then Electrelane in their current evolved sound are a melting pot of Stereolab, Talking Heads and even The Strokes in rhythmic terms. For a radical change to the band, vocals appear on the album, though it’s clear that lead singer Verity Susman’s voice is just as equal in the mix as the other instruments, not in a Sigur Ros sense, but in the idea that her vocals are merely just a teamplayer for a bigger picture sound. At times, her delivery is deliberately fractured, as if primal and deeply raw, whilst on other occasions Susman maximises on sweet tone.
Corroborating the notion that women are more intelligent than men, Electrelane intensely throw literary references in their lyrics. The brilliantly devilish if oxymoronically angelic The Valleys contains extracts from Siegfried Sassoon’s A Letter Home, whilst This Deed has snippets of Nietzsche.
Outside of the punk genre, this is a lo-fi masterpiece as original and unconventional as an album can be whilst flirting with the borderline between listenable and pretentious. The tight guitar overlaying between Susman and Mia Clarke sounds like it’s playing through an amp in your living room, and on The Power Out that’s a good thing rather than bad. At times, the band’s production values are so sparse and yet so mesmerising that you can easily become entranced and rendered zombie-like in amazement. The organ solo at the finale of Love Builds Up is dazzling enough to be classed in the same vein as The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again; it shouldn’t work but it does. In fact, all of the songs on paper are nothing but rambling musical messes, and yet the record somehow makes sense when you listen it; it’s just impossible to explain why.
Electrolane’s The Power Out is a blistering and unconventional assault into musical connoisseurs’ hearts, and there’s no reason why each of them shouldn’t be won over, even on first listen of this brilliant second album from the all-girl Brighton quartet. If you find yourself buying albums that usually fill the top ten most weeks, then The Power Out is sadly not for you, which unfortunately says more about the state of the industry itself as opposed to its consumers.