An exaltation of larks? A murder of crows. A siege of herons. A charm of finches. A cast of hawks A deceit of lapwings, an ostentation of peacocks, a bouquet of pheasants, a congregation of plovers, an unkindness of ravens.
The collective terms for birds are so much nicer than those for musicians. A Blunt of drab male singer-songwriters. A Muse of bombastic stadium rock geniuses. A Kook of talentless no-hopers who should really sling their hooks back to whatever rock they crawled from; it’s just not as poetic.
But whatever collective term you use to slice it, the new album from Dot Allison, one time poster maiden of dreamy electronica, one time pre-Moss Doherty cohort, veers, ever so slightly, on the side of dull.
And, by veers slightly we mean swerves hugely in a “Oh my God look! There’s Johnny Borrell!” kind of way, and by dull we mean, well, just dull. It’s not bad, and it’s definitely rather pretty, just not that interesting.
Although some subtle reflection on the title might have lessened that particular surprise – it’s doubtful that Slayer have had future album plans dashed by Allison nabbing Exultation Of Larks. If that hadn’t been sufficient to give the game away, the none-more-twee hand stitched cover art certainly should have.
Still, sometimes life isn’t exciting. A lack of pulse quickening moments isn’t enough to scupper an album, provided it managed to provoke something else.
Something which is intended to be heartbreak. Not revolutionary, hardly unique, but something which sustains about 90% of the art on this planet and about 100% of the manufacturers of meals for one.
So you get lashings of plaintive strings, Allison’s delicate waft of a voice and tales which dance around themes of love and loss. Sadly, while it may be aimed at that most vital of organs it doesn’t hit. It’s a kidney bruiser, at best.
Aside from the obvious issues with the sheer mannered politeness of it all, there’s also a distinct lack of variation. Indeed, aside from occasionaly opening the sound effect box last seen helping The Flaming Lips battle pink robots, there’s very little distinguishing the non-threatening banjo plucking wrapping Thief Of Me in a blanket of radio friendly warmth and the non-threatening violin twiddling making The Shivering into the theme tune to a yogurt chewing hippy disco in the centre of a climate camp.
It’s all just a bit yaaawn. A bit *shrug*. Worst of all, In Deep Water sounds like fucking Enya. ‘Nuff said.