Monday, April 11, 2016

EP Corner: Titans' Daughters

Jo Whitby (a.k.a. Laurence Made Me Cry) released her first album, The Diary of Me, back in 2013. It was, for the most part, a gently lovely folk album, but weirder tracks like Intelligent Mister Toad and Remedy demonstrated that Whitby had no qualms about putting down her acoustic guitar and  experimenting with electronic stuff when the feeling took her.

Three years on from The Diary of Me (which, by the by, was nominated for the 2013 Welsh Music Prize), we have Titans' Daughters, the first of two EPs that Laurence Made Me Cry will reportedly be releasing this year. From the off, it's clear that Whitby's interest in the more electronic end of the musical spectrum has overtaken her desire to write finger-picked acoustic numbers; as much as I loved All That Patience Brings and the bright Bagpuss beauty of Between Destinations, the redoubled focus on synthesised sounds gives this EP has a darker, more dramatic atmosphere that's difficult to resist. From By the Throat onwards, you can really hear that the stakes have been raised:

Thematically, Titans' Daughters is steeped in Greek mythology, with particular reference to the original Boeotian Muses: Mneme (the Muse of memory) and Melete (the Muse of meditation or practice) have tracks named after them, and while their sister Aodie isn't mentioned by name, her role as the Muse of song means that her influence is felt throughout the EP as a matter of course.

Melete is the EP's lead single, but while I do enjoy that song's deft, hypnotic use of an old adage ("practice makes perfect") to evoke the mistakes you make over the course of a relationship, I think Mneme is even cleverer in the way it relates back to its mythological namesake. As previously mentioned, Titans' Daughters is a largely electronic collection; traditional instruments occasionally bubble to the surface (listen for the gorgeous violin figure in The Muse), but Mneme is the only track that really harks back to how it was on Diary of Me: for a few minutes, Whitby's acoustic side assumes the spotlight once more. The contrast between this track and the rest of the EP is rather striking, and if you were listening to Laurence Made Me Cry back in 2013, the whole thing has a kind of wistful, remember-how-it-used-to-be quality that's perfect for a song about the Muse of memory.

Of course, that moment of sweetness only makes the swirling storm that's brewing elsewhere on this EP sound even more potent. Titans' Daughters is a great, turbulent-sounding EP, and here's hoping that the second part of this project - out later in 2016, supposedly - will build on the ominous yet every-so-slightly sensual atmosphere proffered here.

Titans' Daughters is out today, and can be purchased from Laurence Made Me Cry's Bandcamp page.

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