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The Cellophane Flowers – If I Was A Girl

Minor Fall Records

The Cellophane Flowers - If I was a GirlThis is an EP that really wants you to like it from the moment you see the sleeve. It screams “Hey, I’m friendly, we could hang out and play Swingball!” First off you get a really endearing picture of a smiling jukebox as the sleeve art, and then the CD itself is pretending to be vinyl. It’s beautiful packing, it really is, and to an old cynic like me, filled me with a sense of foreboding – I was bound to be let down after such a charming opening.

But, happily, it wasn’t to be. Inside is a collection of rather lovely indie-rock – and don’t let the term put you off; yeah, I know it summons up hideous images of Coldplay and Travis and Scouting For Girls, but please don’t worry on that account. It’s nothing like that shit. This is bubbly-yet-darkish stuff by people who clearly know their New Order from their Smiths, and is all the better for it.

What it most reminds me of, to be honest (and, sadly, probably inadvertently obscure) is the criminally underrated Tabitha Zu, lead singer Francesca Corradini‘s voice having that hard-yet-soft quality that also made TZ vocalist Melanie Garside‘s solo album so good, even though nobody ever heard it. Too often these days indie vocalists make the mistake, in trying to make their voice into another instrument (an art perfected by the wonderful Mike Patton), making it into a really dull one; a second rhythm guitar or something, just rising and falling with the music and, half the time, making you think they could have saved a fortune and ditched the singer. Ms Corradini doesn’t fall into this trap, her voice rising defiantly from guitar crescendos and soaring majestically over bass and drums (as opposed to drum’n’bass, obviously) breakdowns.

The more I listen to it, the more I’m also getting echoes of some of the great female-fronted pop music of the eighties. When people think eighties pop, they always think Wham! and the like, when really they should be thinking Martha And The Muffins, The Mobiles or The Passions. There’s a lot of The Passions in this band, whether deliberately or not, and to this aging hack, that’s a wonderful thing that there should be more of in music.

They’re not breaking any boundaries or creating any new genres, but that doesn’t seem to be what they’re about. What they ARE doing is great, solid, affecting songs in a genre rapidly forgetting that these things are important. While many of their contemporaries are drifting away into some kind of leafy sludge, they’ve actually remembered that music should move people in ways that don’t just consist of “to and from the bar,” and that songwriting is actually an art, rather than just something the member with the best vocabulary can do in their spare time when they’re not posing for magazines.

If there’s any justice, they’ll go a long way. As long as they can get themselves noticed about the tide of mediocrity that surrounds them; although on the strength of this EP that shouldn’t prove too difficult.

-Deuteronemu 90210 at 45 rpm, give or take-

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