You can find a million faults in me

This one is pretty tardy. To be honest, I listened to 'Red', the second Guillemots album, a couple of times when it first hit back in March, but it made so little of an impression upon me that I kinda forgot about it, preferring the instant and continuously ace Laura Marling, LC! or Elbow records. But last night in the car I decided to revisit 'Red'. After all, the band's previous album was my favourite of the year in 2006, so they deserve another listen. My initial gripe was that despite beginning strongly, it sort of blended into a dull mess for a large swathe of the middle of the album.

That impression remains, unfortunately. The first three songs are still storming, though - 'Kriss Kross' fails to get old or not-huge; 'Big Dog' seems to divide opinions but I really like it, coming across as a polished RNB stormer (check it on my muxtape); and 'Falling Out Of Reach' is gorgeous, with gospel choirs, soft vocals and the fact that Sir Ian McKellen is in the video is just icing on the cake. Fyfe said he wanted to make this album the inverse of 'Through the Windowpane', this time beginning with the most mental track and ending with the quietest, and that makes for a great first ten minutes, although the last song, 'Take Me Home' is dreary and forgettable.

Trouble is, despite being more adventurous 'Red' is too often just alright. 'Last Kiss' is uptempo and is their most dancey-song, but other than that, it's unremarkable. 'Clarion' and 'Cockateels' pass you by, the later has the Bollywood strings but that's about all. 'Standing on the Last Star' is the biggest weak spot - it sounds like the least inspired tunes from the Britpop days with pretty bland lyrics and for once with this band, pretty boring instrumentation. "Is nothing in the world going to make you happy" is a nice refrain, I suppose, but if you're still listening that far into the song, kudos to you. What it boils down to is: there are fewer drop-dead instant classics on 'Red' than 'Windowpane', and more filler.

Since I am a fan of the band, and don't want to end the review on a sour note, I'll just say that 'Don't Look Down', the penultimate track, is really good - Fyfe's voice begins all deep, over sombre background, before it unfolds deliberately, slowly, into a much prettier swooner; and then it becomes a drum-n-bass stormer, with some amazin' work from Greig.

I hope we can still be friends, Guillemots.

[download Guillemots - Don't Look Down]

[Guillemots - official site / myspace]


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