Emily Breeze: Rituals

review emily breeze x1 cong

This is a studied act, presenting the kind of music an intellectual type might believe reflects the cool chic followers of Jack Kerouac would adopt on a pilgrimage to La Rive Gauche in Paris. It’s apparently effortless and cynical, but served up with English wit, so you can always claim satire if anyone laughs.

As an example, Ego Death has the narrator going into Gregg’s (or maybe not, but Gregg’s is discussed) and being offered the day’s specials: “Ego death coupled with a side of nameless longing … we are also offering a complementary glass of sexual frustration.” The latter is direct from the suburbs; “the suburbs of your soul” of course.

The album starts with Call In Sick Today, the opening lines: “I thought I’d bring the world to its knees / By smoking skunk … and speed reading Socrates”, before the narrator reflects that Jesus probably wants her to get out of bed, while she herself will only rise from her pit with the offer of a cocktail dress in heaven. A nice solo guitar follows, reminiscent of Tony Hicks’s solo in The Hollies’ The Air That I Breathe (back when bands were still called groups); this song is a kind of cynical take on the laidback sound of The Hollies (though don’t say it too loudly: Radiohead copied Air That I Breathe and had to give song-writing credits away for Creep).

After this is Work; she got in and this time she’s toeing the line: she works nine to five, can’t see your band tonight and is full of enthusiasm for the team … but dead inside. Limousines is a slow ballad and a more conventional pop song.

Elsewhere is a cover of Buddy Holly’s Raining in My Heart, a slow and echoey version that suits the “Oh misery, misery / What’s gonna become of me?” lyric more than the chirpy tune that made Mr Holly famous.

The previously mentioned Ego Death is one of the standouts, opening with a tight rhythm section and mournful but tinkling piano, and the narrator hoping her work has burned down or been blown up before she gets there, constructing “intricate revenge fantasies” on the No2 bus.

The record closes with Love Song For Aileen Wuornos. We assumed Ms Wuornos was a friend but no: she was an American serial killer who murdered seven men in Florida. She claimed her victims had either raped or attempted to rape her while she was working as a prostitute, shooting them all at close range. The narrator is Aileen herself, who sings: “Ain’t you just the sweetest thing … I’ll take of business darlin’, you just stick with me”.

We admire the spirit but the music is perhaps not terribly novel, though it doesn’t sound overmuch like influences we might suggest: Pulp, Radiohead, even Regina Spektor or trip-hop outfit Ilya (who we think were, like Breeze, from Bristol). A name-check for David Lynch is probably inevitable, too.


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