Album Reviews

Ebony Bones – Bone Of My Bones

(Sunday Best) UK release date: 16 November 2009

Ebony Bones’ debut album Bone Of My Bones worryingly starts with the strangely redundant message “This is the sounds of Ebony Bones,” spoken by someone sounding like JigSaw from the Saw movies.

Thankfully things get rapidly better from there, with W.A.R.R.I.O.R easily blending hand clapping and marching band drums with lo-fi grubby guitar into a powerfully energetic opener. You couldn’t expect a lot less than this sort of energy from someone seen on the album cover bedecked in the kind of colour palette usually reserved for an episode of Art Attack.

Former soap actress and self taught musician Ebony Thomas has been recording under the name Ebony Bones since 2007. She broke in to the music industry when her song We Know All About U (reputedly recorded in her bedroom using pots and pans for percussion) was picked up by BBC Radio 1 and became the most played single by an unsigned artist. The single appears as the second track on the debut album. According to the press information it is about living under an Orwellian regime, but the lyrics lack the substance to suggest much more than a passing infatuation between two or more unknown parties. It could as easily be an anthem for celebrity stalkers as a warning about a Big Brother state.

Story Of St. Ockwell, is a slightly more successful attempt at being political. As soon as you read the song title you can guess this is about the police shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell tube station in 2005, even before the lyrics start to hammer the point home: “Sorry son I think we got the wrong man / but it’s your fault you got a rucksack and a tan.”

Concentrating too much on the message behind the songs on an album like this would be a mistake. At its core, this is an album created to be heard on the dance floor, or – especially – the cleared out lounge at a house party in Dalston. The energy is apparent from the opening beats and stays at a consistent level thereafter. Case in point is the fourth track. As if reading minds, a choir demands, “Stop doing that job related task! / Miss Bones understands your pain!” A funky disco beat leads a fun song apparently about nothing much more than young people doing dumb things.

The sixth track sees the mood change to a more rock/punk inspired direction and it seems an odd choice for the title track – it’s in no way indicative of the album. This is evidenced by the lack of vocals of any kind and a change of direction and pace from dance to an off-beat time signature. It’s also short, at 1m37, suggesting that perhaps Miss Bones is unwilling or (far less likely) unable to keep up the pretence.

She slows things down even more for a pair of pop songs that would be equally at home in the back catalogue of Garbage, Gwen Stefani, or Lily Allen. Guess We’ll Always Have NY, a reminiscing love song, is the stronger of the two with I’m Ur Future X Wife degrading into a series of catchy hook phrases rather than lyrics that make any cohesive sense. By the time Smiles & Cyanide comes around you resent the guest rapping appearance of Ms Streamz. It’s by far the weakest track on the album and it feels like you’ve just watched your offspring be corrupted by a bad influence.

Fortunately there are two big, pumping, heavily produced numbers to close out the album. When It Rains has some of the more ambitious mixing on the record and the sheer comedy value of hearing a woman repeatedly sing Don’t Fart On My Heart is enough to – ahem – warm the heart. It rounds out an album that’s a near-perfect collection of dance floor classics. The mis-steps are few, and easily forgivable.

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Ebony Bones – Bone Of My Bones