‘Lonesome George’, with its upbeat electronic tinged melodies, proved to be one of the standout tracks of 2009 - and certainly the finest tortoise-themed song - placing their debut album high on the “to do” list for 2010. So here it is, although it’s apparent that whatever expectations our shelled friend may have set are going to be challenged.
How often has a strong lead single inspired a album purchase of which that track is the only one of any merit? Initially, it might appear this is the case here. But it’s really just that ‘Lonesome George’ isn’t representative of the rest of the album, its radio-friendly credentials delivering a rush of endorphins which the other nine tracks take a little longer to produce.
This is an album of slow burnring tracks that really need to grow. Days after hearing those melodies they will be circling the subconscious, drawing you back to listen again. Pleasingly, on each subsequent listen more layers and depths are revealed. From what might initially appear as ordinary emerges a splendour - subtle at first, but before you know it it’s all you can hear.
Putting the effort in reaps tremendous rewards. ‘Only One Look’ is a haunting love song that gently drifts along, underpinned by initially tribal beats that grow in complexity as the song progresses. ‘Tiny Corrections’ is utterly gorgeous, its warm and heartfelt atmosphere tenderly nestles the listener into submission.
The tempo across the bulk of the album is deliberately slow and purposeful. There are elements of Lou Barlow and Jason Pierce in the vocals, restrained but confident. Guitars chime and ring out over delicate and methodical percussion. Understated electronics bubble away under the surface, adding texture and grain.
Cross out something from your New Year resolutions list and make some time to give this the attention it so richly deserves. In our throwaway culture it’s rare to find as generous a body of work as this.