Album Reviews

Electrelane – The Power Out

(Too Pure) UK release date: 2 February 2004

Electrelane - The Power Out Its football team may be a little bit rubbish, but musically it seems clear that Brighton tops the Premiership in 2004. Boasting a line-up including Clearlake, The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, Electric Soft Parade and the peerless British Sea Power, the place with the dodgy pier was deservedly featured as Radio 1’s latest Rock City. And that’s without even mentioning Fatboy Slim.

Furthermore, following their compelling 2002 debut LP Rock It To The Moon (geddit?), all-girl combo Electrelane offer yet another reason to pack your bucket and spade and head to the pebbly south coast paradise. For this, their follow-up effort, Electrelane have trodden the well-worn path to Steve Albini‘s Chicago Studio – always a signal of a band’s desire to bring to the fore the most jagged, uncompromising edges of their sound.

This certainly explains why the swathes of warm Inspiral Carpets-esque organ hooks that cocooned their debut have been replaced with sharper guitar parts. Still remaining, however, are the driving, hypnotic Can / Neu rhythms of the sort most recently perfected by Stereolab. Like the ‘Lab at their early best, Electrelane’s music hurtles along like a musical train, the chugging repetition expertly submerged under sweet ethereal vocal harmonies and catchy guitar jingles.

On occasions, admittedly, the singing does come across as rather insipid, which makes the hauntingly beautiful presence of the Chicago a cappella choir on standout track The Valleys all the more stunning. Trust me, you MUST hear this track. The recent single On Parade is also a highlight, its detuned guitars and yelping chorus treading that essential fine line between clever and stupid. The visit to electro-clash territory on Only One Thing Is Needed is also a successful venture, providing perhaps the album’s most catchy pop moment.

Elsewhere, I do sometimes feel that Electrelane have missed a trick by abandoning the trademark Hammond organ signature that graced their debut. Without this characterising feature, their sound is somewhat less of a heady brew, and can sometimes sound rather stale as a result. Lacking the cerebral aspects of Stereolab, the genuine off-kilter strangeness of Pram and the beguiling beauty of Broadcast, they perhaps need something else to lift them from the pack.

Still, perhaps it’s too early to judge Electrelane against such indie luminaries. By any reasonable set of criteria, The Power Out is more than worthy of your attention. Brighton, rave on.

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Electrelane – The Power Out