9/10 Mike Staff review, 28 February 2014
Oh, Boy. Here's an album which really needs more than the perfunctory half-hour review I have time to give it, but that's how the release schedule works sometimes. So many records, so little time!
Here the inimitable Carla Bozulich of Evangelista/Geraldine Fibbers notoriety delivers her "pop album" (her words not mine!), veering from clanking mechanical grooves that bring to mind 'Alice'-era Tom Waits to windswept sweeping strings, as all the while Bozulich croons and caterwauls and coos and sings in a variety of voices from a tiny manic mumble to a grandiose holler to a vulnerable bluesy sweetness.
I just noticed that Andrea Belfi (whose latest Belfi/Grubbs/Pilia LP is one of the surprise gems of recent weeks) is responsible for much of the percussion here, which is excellent, his spare and expressive style fitting perfectly with Carla's no-frills songwriting aesthetic, particularly in 'Don't Follow Me' where he builds from a stop-start style where each phrase seems to have a distinct beginning and end through to a puttering, determined groove with lots of tom toms and crash and no hi-hat, giving a weird emptiness to the sound which fits perfectly with the tentative drones and doubled up vocals it accompanies.
There's a lot of darkness on these tracks despite their succinct and melodious qualities which make the term "pop album" a bit of a stretch; it's incredibly intimate, somewhat confessional music, like we're listening to Bozulich trying to make peace with some bleak situations. She does it in such an immediate and personal way that it's hard not to gawp in a way which feels uncomfortably voyeuristic in places. If this is pop music, it's the kind which hides in the dusky cracks of darkness and howls into the night while everyone else is asleep. Not always the most comfortable listen but really affecting stuff.
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- Boy by Carla Bozulich
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