Emily and The Faves - Emily and The Faves (Respectable Horse)

Superb, assured sounding debut album from the psychedelic pop group

Released Jun 27th, 2011 via Respectable Horse / By Richard Lewis
Emily and The Faves - Emily and The Faves (Respectable Horse) Summer, as if the point needed labouring, is a fleeting thing in Britain. With Glastonbury just gone, all those who attended or watched on TV will have checked the weather report with a mixture of dread or schadenfrude depending on their situation. Emily and The Faves however are capable of summoning up the kind of vibes that are only briefly attainable in Blighty over the ‘summer months’.

Led by the eponymous Ms. Lansley and revolving around a core of her, drummer Andy Delamere and bassist/guitarist Andy Frizzell, the trio and various compadres have delivered an infectious long player.

With more than a hint of Laurel Canyon’s golden age about it, (Joni, James, Neil et al.) the album condenses the classic songwriting sensibilities of the aforementioned with a helping of angularity courtesy of Krautrock bands Can and Amon Duul.

If the mixture of influences sounds unwieldy, it isn’t. The melodic structures of the songs are strong enough to withstand being gently bent out of shape by the flexible guitar tones, similar to MBV’s strumming/whammy bar utilization.

The hushed vocals throughout almost suggest Jackanory with Emily, opening track ‘So Long Sucker’ weaving mysterious lyrics about spider webs and creatures who ‘hover over everyone/they will ask you questions on the telephone’ around an indelible melody.

Unlike Travis Bickle who kicked his over, Elvis who shot his or Charlie Brooker’s rants about the mass medium, ‘My TV’ is pretty much the opposite, ‘TV is a part of me/That sets me free.’

The iridescent ‘I Never Saw’, possibly the best song here, effectively bottles the band’s essence in three minutes. Sprinting past bolstered by broad rhythm guitar brushes and overlapping vocal parts, the overall sonic result effectively sounds like the sun shining.

Harking back to old-school vinyl when tracks six and seven, book ending each side would be two of the strongest tracks on the LP, the same applies here. ‘Is it Still Nighttime?’ led by a series of shape-shifting arpeggiated guitar chords concluding with a mysterious chant leads the way into the run out groove.

Opening up the second act refreshed on Side Two, ‘Golden Hair’ and its winning combination of angular guitar and vocal that closely mirrors it begins like a cut from A Hard Day’s Night era Beatles. Boasting trebly melodicism and a McCartney bassline, once lodged in the listener’s head the song proves practically immovable.

In complete contrast, ‘White Nights’ vaguely sinister nursery rhyme feel with echoing nylon strung acoustic guitar conjures up the dusky feel of English folk music, possibly what the songwriter had in mind, when she said the song sounded ‘medieval.’

As guitarist for psychedelic folk group Stealing Sheep, there are understandably similarities with both bands. A principal difference however is in their production, The Faves songs are full to the brim with guitars, unlike the more keyboard-led ‘Sheep. The production’s subtle inflections, deep-pile baking vocals and additional guitar parts mixed low gives the album a rich tone.

‘Darth’, another highpoint (the titles’ relationship to Luke Skywalker’s father unclear) on first impression sounds like a straightforward psychedelic pop tune. Repeated listens reveal the detail contained within however. Built on a chassis of buzzsaw guitar, evasively changing time signature several times as more and more guitar parts deliriously pile on top of it, it then effortlessly returns to it’s original theme, all within the space of three minutes.

Done and dusted in a breathless thirty-eight minutes, finishing with the almost theme song ‘My Fave’, the album’s brevity is to be praised in not opting for an epic closing track simply in order to fill up the record.

The ideal soundtrack to summer then, whether the season it so easily evokes will ever truly arrive however is anyone’s guess.