Beautiful Things of 2011: Scandipop goddesses
I Break Horses do the Austra/Zola Jesus/EMA kohl-eyed noise’n’pretty schtick that I’m a sucker for. There are muzzied vocals and urgency and swoons aplenty, and on Tom Rowland’s dark and delicious remix of ‘Hearts’ they are a bleepy-bleeped-heartbeat away from swirly perfection. I suspect they’d be headswimmingly monstrous live.
Sacred Harp are, er … strange. Strange good and strange confusing and sometimes strange really quite fucking alarming. If I said “impro jazz, classical, film scores, pop, Fever Ray, experimental, prog rock” at you all in a fevered rush it would – quite rightly – make you wary and possibly irritated. So instead I will tell you how (adopted Scandinavian but originally Dutch singer and main Harp) Jessica Sligter’s vocals slip and slide out of key and out of easy melodic tropes with infinitely precise control. She sings like comfort is a dirty word. She sings like a cat stuck in Mike Oldfield’s recording barn. Like a dryad stranded in the big city, caught between marvels and mayhem. By hooking her calculated tonal mis-steps around our ankles and sending us lurching into unknown territory, Sligter gives us a ride that thrills, bothers and allures. Marvellous stuff.