Stealing Sheep — Not Real ♦ All–girl trio z Liverpoolu Emily Lansley, Lucy Mercer a Rebecca Hawley pracuje s kombinací éterických syntezátorů a zpěvu v rámci informačních a komunikačních technologií inovativní psych–folk, což je vyloženě okouzlujícím zážitkem. Lákadlem jsou harmonie a melodie. Ani zdaleka to není středověký a skopčácký folk. Jak mohl někdo vymyslet tak odporné slovo? Už ho ani nebudu opakovat. Je to spíše popové album typu Hot Chip, Bat For Lashes a zřejmě i La Roux, vokální linka je však dodávána s ‘nosovou’ bezstarostností stále živého Johna Lennona. Doprovodné vokály pak intonují melodii a tato kombinace má za následek rostoucí drone a Calexico polštář nebo The High Llamas náladu alb Can Cladders a Beet, Maize & Corn. Prostě velké překvapení. A když do toho slyším Rhodes Piano, jsem dostatečně mrtvý, abych do sebe mohl kopnout švestku. Nadprůměrná alba jsou tu k tomu, aby jsme se k nim vraceli. A já se vrátím na jeho začátek. Zdůrazním píseň “Sunk”. Album nahráno v Abbey Road Studios.
Formed: 2010 in Liverpool, England
Location: Liverpool ~~ Abbey Road Studios, UK
Album release: 10 April 2015
Record Label: Heavenly Recordings
01 Sequence 3:14
02 Apparition 3:18
03 Not Real 3:06
04 This Time 3:38
05 Greed 4:44
06 Deadlock 3:35
07 Evolve & Expand 2:33
08 Sunk 2:39
09 Love 3:49
10 She 4:00
℗ 2015 Heavenly Recordings under exclusive licence to [PIAS] Cooperative
Ξ Emily Lansley
Ξ Lucy Mercer
Ξ Rebecca Hawley
Joe Banks, April 7th, 2015 12:36
♦ Into the Diamond Sun, Stealing Sheep‘s 2012 debut album, effortlessly picked a path through the kraut/psych/folk/indie hinterland, and was as dazzling as its title suggests. It had a refreshing, ramshackle charm to it, and tunes galore, without ever descending into kookiness or homespun cliché. Not Real is a significant sonic advance on that album, on the face of it adopting a cleaner, more modern sound, but scratch the polished surface, and you’ll hear that underneath it’s the same band still fizzing with mischief and invention.
♦ First and foremost, it’s an album that unashamedly says, “come on in, the water’s great!” But unlike the depthless sheen of much contemporary pop, there’s something shark–shaped lurking in this pool. Opening track ‘Sequence’ is an airburst of shimmering funk guitars and a brilliantly on the nose electro bassline that recalls nothing so much as Reel 2 Real’s child–friendly crowd pleaser ‘I Like To Move It’. It’s the azure of summer skies and the feeling of sunlight on your face, the sing–song vocal melodies dream–like but never crass. What’s immediately clear, and impressively so, is the way in which Stealing Sheep have created a new soundworld for themselves, without sacrificing what makes them different.
♦ ‘Not Real’ itself is a great illustration of this. It starts with Lucy Mercer singing the puzzling line, “Don’t let the daylight fool you that you’re not real,” the sleepy insouciance of her Scouse accent locating the song in a pop universe where such quirks aren’t ruthlessly auto–tuned away. Which makes perfect sense, because its fruity synths, insistent rhythms and steel guitar suggest an incursion into the alternate reality of Ghost Box, where the hit parade is full of non–existent stars. It also highlights their knack for arrangements that are playful but incredibly dense with detail.
♦ ‘Apparition’ captures the upbeat but off–kilter pulse of Stealing Sheep’s music, sounding like a darker version of The Cure’s ‘Close To Me’. There’s a catch in Becky Hawley’s vocal which is weirdly sexy, and the robot claps that drive the song along give it a slightly sinister edge. Elsewhere, there are echoes of their earlier, more folky material: ‘This Time’ has a west coast raga–swing feel to it, while ‘Evolve And Expand’ is a disquieting piece of acoustic whimsy, its opening line of, “They will cook you up and grind you down for glue and clay” sung with childlike glee.
♦ But the centrepiece of the album is the magnificent 'Greed', its tuned percussion loop, droning vocal line, murmuring brass and theme of spiritual quest suggesting a holy alliance between The Dreaming–era Kate Bush and the psychedelic Beatles. It's one of those special songs with in–built déja vu that unfolds exactly as it should and gradually envelopes you in its woozy embrace. This stew of fourth world sounds is further reflected on the hypnagogic exotica of 'Deadlock' and the sensual, sub–aquatic reverie of 'Sunk'.
♦ Just like their debut, Not Real is an album to keep coming back to. Because like all great pop, it's full of memorable lines and nagging hooks, but also the sense of something ungraspable, resistant to easy interpretation. The water's great, but it's spiked with something strange. ♦ http://thequietus.com/
Artist Biography by Scott Kerr
♦ Liverpool trio Stealing Sheep comprised Emily Lansley (guitar, vocals), Rebecca Hawley (keys, vocals), and Lucy Mercer (percussion, vocals) who met in 2010 and formed the band in the city over a cup of tea at the Mello Mello café. The group set about writing and rehearsing that summer and began to produce their haunting psych–folk sound, drenched with otherworldly harmonies, jaunty guitars, and almost tribal, hypnotic beats. With a handful of songs written, the band launched into recording what would become their debut EP, What if the Lights Went Out. They found help in first–time producer Joe Wills, who set a makeshift studio up in a school in Toxteth, Liverpool to record the band’s early compositions. Wills’ valuable input encouraged some experimental techniques and ultimately helped mold their diverse sound.
♦ Citing a variety of influences from Twin Sister to Broadcast alongside Krautrock and freak–folk music, their three–part harmonies and droning synths created a dark and brooding sound that nodded to Efterklang and Mice Parade. Following the release of their second EP, Noah and the Paper Moon, the band began to receive radio play from some of BBC 6 Music’s influential DJs such as Lauren Laverne and Jarvis Cocker. The trio’s innovative vocal interplay took on a bewitching nursery rhyme quality at times, while their three–part harmonies could be equally haunting and beautiful. The single from the EP “I Am the Rain” was recorded during one fleeting midnight visit to Abbey Road studios.
♦ The band was then snapped up in the U.K. by Heavenly Records following the release of their second EP and the radio hype that ensued. They have toured with the likes of St. Vincent, tUnE–yArDs, and Emmy the Great, and “Shut Eye” — the first fruit from sessions for their debut album — was released in May 2012, followed later in the year by the full–length Into The Diamond Sun. Not Real, the group's sophomore long–player, arrived in early 2015.
PAUL CLARKE — APRIL 9, 2015, SCORE: 8
♦ It’s always a joy when a band goes off on a tangent and then it works as well as it has for Stealing Sheep.
♦ They were slightly unfairly lumped into the nu–folk movement, but have always had an electronic edge to their music which has now almost completely taken over their sound.
♦ That’s no bad thing as this self–produced album recorded in their own studio is a massive leap forward packed full of classic pop tunes like opener Sequence pumped along by layered keyboards, programmed percussive beats and choppy guitar.
♦ It is helpful when you have three great voices like Becky Hawley, Emily Lansley and Lucy Mercer’s that weave seamlessly around each, which is particularly effective on the infectious, looping Deadlock as they urge us all to get a grip.
♦ For their older fans the acoustic guitar on Evolve and Expand hints at their old sound, but really serves to show just how far they have come.
♦ Stealing Sheep were one of the highlights of the recent Heavenly Weekender at the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge, so not only have they produced a contender for album of the year, but they can cut it live too. ♦ http://www.backseatmafia.com/
By Alan Ashton–Smith | Posted on 11 Apr 2015 | Score: ****
♦ http://www.musicomh.com/reviews/albums/stealing-sheep-not-real / Twitter: https://twitter.com/stealingsheep / Website: http://stealingsheep.co.uk/