Wednesday, October 2, 2013

WMP Nominees - Laurence Made Me Cry

As you may well have noticed by now, I'm listening to each Welsh Music Prize-nominated album in turn and blogging my thoughts thereon. You can keep up with my progress on The Album Wall's dedicated Welsh Music Prize 2013 page.

First of all, I would like to say thank you to Jo Whitby - for Laurence Made Me Cry is she - for making The Diary of Me one of them 'pay what you want' albums. I was beginning to worry that purchasing every album necessary for this Welsh Music Prize adventure might well ruin me, and while I do feel a little guilty for not stumping up more than £2, my pockets are certainly glad to have had that option.

Anyway, on to the music. This is a very nice album indeed, and it makes great fodder for a game of 'Who Does This Song Sound Like?' Some tracks sound a bit like The Staves, other songs have a bit of Chairlift running through them. Remedy, the second track, sounds like a Tindersticks spoken word track in the verse and a skittery, post-millennial Radiohead song in the chorus. I could go on.

And in fact I will. Paper Chains is very Björk, while Intelligent Mister Toad reminds me of The Magnetic Fields (their very old stuff, with Susan Anway as lead vocalist instead of Stephin Merritt). You know I've got a raging music boner on when I mention them.

I can't find the album version of Intelligent Mister Toad on YouTube, so here's one of the songs it reminds me of instead. The dreamy atmosphere, the mishmash of sounds drifting in and's very much that sort of thing. Jo's vocals are kind of similar too, although the mix on The Diary of Me is much less murky than this.

I haven't mentioned my two favourites yet. The first - and this one I did manage to find on YouTube - is a beautiful number called Between Destinations. It has that wonderful quality of sounding like something very familiar that you can't quite put your finger on, although if I had to compare it to something, I'd say that it sounds like a 21st century version of the music from Bagpuss. The faux train announcement is a sweet touch, too - speaking as someone who lives in Cardiff, it sounds very much like home.

The other song, which I perhaps like even more, is called A Channeling/Northern Lights. It's the album's penultimate track, and it's one of those songs that just builds up layers of different sounds and, unusually for a gentle folktronica record like this, really gets your body moving. Again, no YouTube clip of this one, so you'll have to use your imagination (or, y'know, get the album). it better than Praxis Makes Perfect?
You know what? It might be. They're very different albums, and I think I'll need a week or so to decide for certain, but the signs are definitely promising. Where Praxis... is a very concise album, bringing the big choruses in bulk and sprinkling them with cold, cold synthesiser ice cubes, The Diary of Me is a nice, warm album that you can really get lost in, and sometimes that's just as enjoyable.

It's odd, really. My WMP odyssey has touched upon five albums so far (not including Praxis Makes Perfect), and my two favourites - this and February by Winter Villains - are also the two softest ones, the two that I expected to be a little bored by. Perhaps I'm just softening in my old age, but this shortlist has done nothing but surprise me so far and I hope it continues to do so.

Incidentally, I'm kicking this little adventure into high gear now that it's October. Every blog post between now and the big announcement will be about a Welsh Music Prize album; come back on Friday for my take on Zervas & Pepper's Lifebringer.

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