Ethereal, magical, bewitching, experimental and beautiful, you can almost imagine the five members of Fiel Garvie sitting around after a hard days spent plucking and twanging in the studio describing themselves thus. Fair enough but then I’m sure Enya probably feels the same way about her work and it sure doesn’t stop that from being the proverbial crock.
So what do you get then? Well leaving aside the vocals which we will come to later, what we have here is some accomplished if safe indie in the vein of The Cranes or the Cocteau Twins. It fuzzes and drones and is quite pleasant, but never really threatens to excite or shock, as beneath the odd effect and wash of sound are pretty conventional songs.
It’s not until near the end of the album, on Old Friend, that they finally swap their quiet, quiet approach for the much more exciting quiet, LOUD one. For a second the preceding albums worth of fey noodlings are forgotten, it’s like Mogwai, just nowhere near as good. But even this flash is short lived and we’re back to the same ‘mood’ as the rest of the album for the album closer Flake.
So onto the singer. With a voice pitched somewhere between Bjork and Liz Fraser, she is the central element of the band, and ultimately their downfall. On B-Rock the opening tune, it’s tolerable, mainly due to you trying to work out who she reminds you of. But over the course of an album these candy-floss vocals are just too much, a pale imitation that leaves you wanting the real thing.
Worse by having the vocals so central and making the lyrics determine the shape of the songs, they constrain the rest of the band. Pushing them into a more conventional pop format, when they are obviously talented enough to make much more interesting and satisfying music that genuinely could lay claim to being innovative and all the other adjectives their hearts could desire.