Album Review: The Constant Pageant by Trembling Bells
Exceptionally Good, Based on 3 Critics
PopMatters - 90 Based on rating 9/10
In many ways, Trembling Bells may be the most conventional project Alex Neilson has been involved with as a musician. Compared to his work with his former bands Scatter and Directing Hand, and his collaborations with musical outsiders Richard Youngs and Jandek, the formation of a four-piece group focused on recreating the golden era of British psychedelia and folk-rock would appear to be at least sailing in the direction of the mainstream. Except that the ostensibly foursquare set-up of vocals, guitars, and drums is always decentered by the addition of other instrumental textures (most notably horns played in a variety of historical styles), the use of defiantly archaic lyrics (stretching beyond conventional folk styles to incorporate Elizabethan madrigals), and a constant war between the classical and the vernacular.
Trembling Bells have moved on. Once hailed as heroes of the new psych-folk movement, the Glasgow-based four-piece edge towards the mainstream with an album that is confident, melodic and crammed with rousing folk-rock anthems with a quirky edge. There are no traditional songs here, but song-writer Alex Neilson says he "thinks of traditional folk music as being like my first serious girlfriend", and almost every track has the sturdy resonance of a great British folk ballad.
KATY B “On a Mission” (Rinse/Columbia) To hear what Katy B does so well, dig up “Hold Me,” her collaboration with the Count & Sinden from their 2010 album “Mega Mega Mega.” The beat is vibrant and sinister, all wobbly bass lines and clanging percussion. But atop it all Katy B sings smoothly and sweetly, not dashing in and out in between the moving parts, but spreading out evenly, blunting their impact. Her soft voice turns a challenge into a seduction.