Little Scout – Take Your Light (MGM Distribution)
By Victoria Birch
Little Scout have a nebulous take on noise. They build structures with lightly etched outlines that don’t seem to start or end. With barely a prod to the consciousness, songs gracefully nudge each other into being. Merging together through a delicate and passive form of osmosis; each element only too willing to show deference to the oncoming swell as it ushers the next entity into its orbit …
… *sigh* …
Oh I don’t know. That seemed like a good place to start, but it’s bollocks. I can’t pin down Take Your Light because great swathes of it just evade me. I’m loath to call it background music but that’s about the nub of it. It plays nicely enough but without the gumption to interrupt whatever scintillating activity the day has presented. A bit annoying really because I’m generally desperate for anything to distract me from a three-year-old who is telling me to retrieve his faeces from the cats’ litter tray … again.
I’m sure no one makes music hoping the fruits of their labour will one day be relegated to the corner while grown-ups talk about real estate and market declines. But take note dream-pop makers, no matter how ethereal or intangible your music is. No matter how loosely tethered to reality those swishy swashy sounds are there’s no excuse for tepid whimsy.
Take Your Light just has too many weak passages that fail to make even the faintest imprint. It’s all so bloody polite.
The parts that do try and muster some grunt and growl sound like me when I’m shouting at the kids – unconvincing and half-hearted. ‘In The Air’ attempts to bloom like an angry boil on unblemished skin. Moody keyboards plod up and down before drums and guitars flex their muscles. GRRRRRRR!!! they go. Then mouths agape they show a toothless expanse to make you shrug and move along.
You might think Take Your Light is all about contrast. That you can’t relish the wine if you don’t have the flat lemonade. OK, there are some moments that please. The title track is nice. Its rat-a-tat rhythms are wound back so they heave and sway, pushing Melissa Tickle’s vocal around like a benevolent bully. And I quite like the moment ‘Right Now We Are Here’ topples over in a scramble of shiny chords and panting high hat. The chiming bit at the end of this is OK too:
Um, but that’s about it and there’s no use having a few beguiling moments if everything else causes your concentration to invoke its opt-out clause.
When I was trying to get my head around what Take Your Light’s lacking I found myself here.
God it poleaxed me. I hadn’t heard ‘Tishbite’ in such a long time and from the first bar my deprived self quivered in delight. Those geeky keys (so deliriously happy to be in the lap of their lovely mistress) and the cymbals (crashing and splashing like kids in a puddle). It made every synapse gurgle with pleasure. And oh, Elizabeth. I could weep for relegating you to the dusty recesses of my faceless online library. I know this is going to embarrass us both, but hearing you again was like looking at an old photo of my firstborn when he was minutes old – I was truly overwhelmed and wet of eye
Little Scout have the Cocteaus in their sights. Tickle’s voice tries to trill and twirl, flutter and spark. It’s sweet and luscious but it makes me sad, like a butterfly skewered to cardboard. For all its promise Tickle’s voice is kept in an opaque jar high on a shelf where it can only be admired it you squint hard enough.
It’s OK for beauty to have balls, you know. Elizabeth Fraser does. Her voice is as transcendent as they come and she’s punk as fuck. She can hit note after disgracefully melodic note. She can make your heart pop and your knees buckle. She sounds oh so beautiful but the subtext is always “Hey fucker, take the bins out while I’m singing to you and I’ll splinter your face with the force of a thousand golden harmonies”.
I couldn’t ignore Cocteau Twins if I tried. I’d always have to stop what I was doing and give in. Sink down somewhere blissful and be blissed until forcibly returned, sulky faced and pouty, to more mundane things.
I couldn’t pay attention to Little Scout – and I did try, I really did.