Release Date: Nov 3, 2009
Record label: Kranky
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Pop, Alternative
The lead track on Felix’s debut album is called ‘Death to Everyone But Us’. It’s a brave opening gambit, indicative of the pathos and wry humour that lie within. It’s a very telling one too: the subsequent 30 minutes lure you firmly into the milieu of Notts duo Lucinda Chua and Chris Summerlin; listen to You Are the One I Pick under the right circumstances and it really is like sharing some quiet, micro world order with the pair.
Starting an album with a soft, reverb-heavy piano and vocal piece called "Death to Everyone But Us" might not seem completely congruous, but Felix obviously know their twisted adult pop as well as their drone contemplations -- and given how the non-pigeonholed lineage of performers ranging from Laura Nyro and Scott Walker to Tori Amos and Nellie McKay now fills its own niche in musical history, why not this particular twist on it? Thus Felix's debut album, with singer/pianist/cellist Lucinda Chua and guitarist/percussionist Chris Summerlin creating music that might be one of the most atypical things released on the Kranky label without actually going against its now long-running aesthetic of moody, enveloping sounds. Chua's singing and playing occupy a space somewhere between direct forthrightness and dreamy wooziness, her vocals sometimes completely swirled into the ether, at other times her piano suddenly bursting forth to drive a song like "Waltzing for Weasels" forward in a rush. Summerlin's work is subtler in comparison but fleshes out the spare arrangements in calm fashion -- when he fully breaks out on drums, quietly enough but still forcefully, as on "Back in Style," the effect in context is near shocking.
You Are the One I Pick is the debut album by UK chamber-pop duo Felix, and it carries a deceptively direct title for such an understated and elliptical collection of songs. Vocalist Lucinda Chua rarely raises her voice to a volume beyond that of a private conversation, yet her frequently arresting performances here have an air of unusual gravity. This urgency owes largely to the steady undercurrent of quiet turmoil coursing beneath Felix's graceful arrangements, resulting in a number of lovely songs that veritably crackle with confused desires, anxieties, and needling self-doubt.
Nottingham duo Felix delivers their first album, You Are the One I Pick, as Kranky’s final release of the fall. Curiously, there’s very little in Kranky’s discography that compares to this. While the label has been diversifying its sound over the last 5 years or so (I’m thinking of Out Hud and Bradford Cox’s Deerhunter and Atlas Sound projects), they usually don’t delve into things that sound as clear and intentioned as Felix, instead favoring the open-ended and textural.