Stellular is the second solo album by ex-Pippette, Rose Elinor Dougall. It’s her first album in nearly 7 years, following on from 2010’s Without Why. Dougall describes the album as being more confident than her previous work. It’s a thoroughly modern album with some classic songwriting soundtracking the difficulties facing a beleaguered generation.
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After fronting Mark Ronson's band for a couple of years it's no wonder that former Pipette Rose Elinor Dougall is bursting with confidence on this her second album. The issue though once you strip back the indie flailing and set off for on a route towards the top of the hit parade is marrying the charm of earlier work with a sheeny high end production. And although the songs on this album have something of Jane Weaver's 'The Silver Globe' in their kraut like chugging, a plethora of dreadful synths threaten to derail the entire thing. The title track is the perfect example. It starts confidently, she's got a great voice and there's an enjoyable pop song in there somewhere but it's hidden under so much shiny gloop and busy synth work that it's in danger of being smothered.
What is left is something not unlike the sort of plastic pop once made by the likes of Sophie Ellis Bextor. Bouncy and excitable but lacking anything anywhere near soulful. On songs like 'Take Yourself With You' we can hear what could have been with wholesome jangling guitars and a sweeping 80's style chorus that could have come from the China Crisis songbook but 'Answer Me' shows Dougall paying too much lip service to the Radio 2 playlist. It's similarity to Hall and Oates 'Private Eyes' sure to snag a few ears amongst the controllers.
The album has been co-written by Boxed In's Oliver Bayston and although it's all perfectly assured I think we lost the essence of Rose Elinor Dougall somewhere in here. In the press notes she states her admiration for Karen Dalton, Joni Mitchell and PJ Harvey. None of those artists have ever made a plastic, sheeny record so where those influences got lost along the way is anyone's guess.
9/10 Lee Rosevere 21st June 2018
A very solid album, don't let the low star rating fool you - I don't understand that at all. I really enjoyed her previous album but this one has more cohesion and more of her own sound. Inventive melodies and song structures nod to the artists that have influenced her, but I'm never playing spot-the-ripoff with this album. One of those instantly likable albums that becomes more and more enjoyable the more you listen. It would get a perfect score if not for "All At Once" which feels a bit removed from the rest of the album but that's nitpicky.
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