The Unkindness Of Ravens - I Used To Be So Pretty (Sonic Fire)

Their third release of the year shows that the duo are real contenders for that electro throne.

Released Nov 22nd, 2010 via Sonic Fire / By Clementine Lloyd
The Unkindness Of Ravens - I Used To Be So Pretty (Sonic Fire) In the vein of a Matrix montage of the choicest action sequences, The Unkindness Of Ravens tap into the relentlessness of beats which can be felt throughout the EP. Anchoring their sound in programmed synth-beats, and unchaining their lust and frustration through lyrics which speak of moving on, both figuratively and literally, it is an interesting case for the revival of that purest form of electro. At times sounding like a flat plain of sound, on which all textures achieve equilibrium, the fact that no element really strives to stand out is both a gift and a curse.

‘Til I Get Home’ opens with a brittle drumbeat, joining with what sounds like a train bell as a tough, reedy riff kicks in. Nina Wagner’s vocals are feminine, yet with a hard edge that is reminiscent of a tough front, shielding her from the world. It is nevertheless a softer edge which rounds of the hardness of the surrounding audio-action. As the track moves forward, lyrics “take me like you wanna, I leave today” become more urgent as the tempo ramps up almost imperceptibly.

Affecting a staccato rhythmic trill in ‘I Used To Be So Pretty’, there is a similar riff underlying the duet, Ben Raine’s bass-notes mingling with the breathier musings from Nina. Shying away from the conventional structure of verse then chorus, the duo has done away with the concept of a verse in this track, opting for the eternal chorus. This theme runs straight through ‘Circle’, where lyrics are sparse save for a few lines which run eternally, perhaps so as not to detract from the spacey riffs.

Leaving us with the finale in the form of ‘Prototype’, Nina and Ben do not depart from their tried and tested structural gait. A harsh drumbeat plays out alongside a post-produced inverted synthetic rhythm. Sparse lyrics shape the overall outcome, minimalist in sensibilities and, thematically in keeping with the opener, “She leaves, today.”

Placing this EP in the sparse field of garage electro is easily done, but figuring out what the duo are really aiming for is a tougher feat. The EP projects a desire to keep things minimal whilst at once being overproduced and scenic. This does not always come off, though the ideas that spill each tune do run along the same lines, offering confused syntax which back up lyrics, meaning everything and nothing at the same time.

Listen to the title track from the EP here.