111 - Crown and Treaty by Sweet Billy Pilgrim 2012
The second of this year's releases to make the top 125. The opening track Joyful Reunion for me sums up everything that is good about this lp and everything that might put people off. There are familiar instruments but somehow they sound different ( The song sounds like the Penguin Cafe Orchestra backing a 70s soul band) , subtle and sudden changes in direction, lyrics that make you think and a soulful vocal in the Peter Gabriel /Guy Garvey mode.
If there was a criticism it is that as the rough edges of their Mercury nominated debut have been smoothed off and to some extent there are occasions where they stray into Elbow territory, not that this is a bad thing.
Other times it reminds me of the 1st Blue Nile lp not in style (although I think they would make a great backing band if Paul Buchanan ever makes another lp) more in that straining to hear the subtleties of the instrumentation you do find yourself wondering what on earth made that sound (could be a guitar or just as likely a bag of spanners)
Part of the joy of the record is listening to how the band weave the disparate atmospheric and experimental parts into something that on one level is quite conventional but on another steeped in experimental soul.
It is one of those lps that is full of discoveries and each track has something that pulls you to attention , whether a contrasting boy girl vocal , choir like harmonies , sampled dialogue or just the simply exquisite playing..
If the lp starts with some alternative dimension 70s soul then it finished with a just as beautiful , but just as odd country hymn
You can buy Crown and Treaty here
On a completely separate note a year in reading continues with Rapture by Liz Jensen a strange mix of eco disaster , psychological thriller , love story , religious fundamentalism and the supernatural all combined in a Magaret Atwood type brew which you can buy here