Release Date: Jul 15, 2014
Record label: Secretly Canadian
Genre(s): Alternative/Indie Rock
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Kendal's Woman's Hour - no, nowt to do with a doleful 60 minutes for females in the Northern mint cake hub - are one of the most talked about groups in recent months. The four-piece have gone from strength to strength, from humble beginnings surviving on scraps and xx comparisons, to the formidable live powerhouses and greyscale popsmiths they are today.
It's been almost three years since Woman's Hour released their first single. For most bands, that's enough time to blow up and burn out. Thankfully, Woman's Hour aren't like most bands - their first single was resoundingly average. Instead of ploughing onwards into obscurity, the Kendal-born four-piece held back on releasing any new material.
According to Hype Machine, Woman’s Hour were 2013’s sixth most blogged band. And there’s a reason that the London-via-Kendall four-piece, centred around siblings Fiona and Will Burgess, have been attracting such attention. In fact, there are 11 of them on this debut full-length. Much of it’s down to Fiona Burgess’ sad yet sultry vocals and the way they stretch across these dreamy, largely synth-based songs.
Perfectionists have their faults. When everything in music is exact, it can often end up missing the vital heart. It’s like a landscape painting with too many straight edges, or being given cheat codes to a game - the fun runs dry pretty quick. Woman’s Hour don’t deny that they take time over things.
Conversations, the debut album by the London-based quartet Woman's Hour, is 42 well-crafted minutes of sophisticated modern pop that fits somewhere between the spare beauty of the xx and the glittering pop of Chvrches. The group concocts a smoothly atmospheric sound that's built around swooning synths, clipped rhythms, and muted guitars, with a pronounced new wave influence, but also adding some nocturnal R&B and silky soft disco for good measure. Vocalist Fiona Burgess is the star of the show; she possesses a rich and relaxed voice that entices listeners with its calm beauty.
UK pop quartet Woman’s Hour have courageously entered waters teeming with the threat of pollution. In an over-massed electropop market saturated with languid synth bands, the group runs the risk of turning out a heavy-lidded delivery that drips of unoriginality — say, another rehash of songs from predecessors like the XX or Beach House. It’s easy to dismiss the group and their debut album, Conversations, by classification alone, particularly as the genre seemingly infiltrates every mainstream pop release.
London foursome Woman’s Hour was formed by two siblings and two friends in 2011, but the band didn’t launch in earnest until last year. Cribbing their name from a popular, long-running BBC radio show focused on women’s issues and interests, the band worked intensely with producer Tom Murray on honing their aesthetic—clean lines, no color, arty pretensions—synthesizing much of the last half-decade’s developments in dreamy, simply melodic pop music. Many of the band’s readily identifiable influences are fellow Brits: the grayscale glamour of Bat for Lashes, Jessie Ware’s cool, mannered tone, and the minimal romanticism of the xx all snake their way through Conversations, Woman’s Hour’s debut.
The much talked-about Kendal/London four-piece's debut is a meticulous affair with neat programming, guitars and bass forming the backdrop to Fiona Burgess's vocals, its roots bedded in MOR pop turf (think Sade, Dido even). The synthy intros to many tracks promise Eno-esque esoterics but really lyrics and hooks are to the fore, with catchy contenders in opener Unbroken Sequence and the title track (which boasts an arty video inspired by a 1973 piece by American choreographer Trisha Brown) . I like the closing minute or so of Darkest Place, where a long, high synth and vocal note is held over shifting chords.
"If I rest, I break and resist, would it be better for you?" asks singer Fiona Jane Burgess on album opener Unbroken Sequence. It's a submissive sentiment that continues for the duration of this Cumbrian group's debut, which is for the most part meek and slightly maudlin. Although they count Fleetwood Mac as inspirations, the suave, soft-focus tint to Conversations is a lot like a vintage episode of Top of the Pops 2 featuring St Etienne, Sade, Simple Minds and Vanessa Paradis.
Frontwoman Fiona Jane Burgess and her brother, guitarist William Burgess, started their band in 2011, naming it after the popular BBC Radio 4 show. Fittingly, they've called their debut Conversations. After all, studies show (my own, at least) that women are better at talking through their issues than men. The London four-piece make dreamy electro-pop with super-retro-sounding 80s synths, peppered with soft Corrs-like harmonies.
Woman’s Hour is a BBC Radio 4 programme aimed at females, with newsy bits and culture abound. It’s not an obvious source to reference when naming a band, but a trio from Kendal (famous for cake that bafflingly isn’t cake at all – sorry kids – and Wild Beasts) have done just that. Fiona Burgess (vocals), brother William Burgess (guitar), Nicolas Graves (bass) and Mancunian Josh Hunnisett (keyboards) make up Woman’s Hour, whose highly anticipated debut album is named after what happens on Woman’s Hour – Conversations.
Humanity is seemingly trying harder than ever to pretend that broken relationships aren't that big of a deal. To speak directly of the pain they cause amounts to whining. But no matter how rip-roarin' your divorce party is, and no matter how conscious you are of your uncoupling, the facts remain – a breakup happens when one person realises they don't want to be around the other person anymore, and that sucks for both of them.
The U.K. four-piece Woman’s Hour takes its name from a long-running BBC radio show. The band’s sound may also have a familiar ring to it, because much of Conversations culls together elements of textured, intellectual night-pop usually linked to bands like Beach House and Lightning Dust. The cool, foggy atmosphere of the band’s debut LP is, really, nothing we haven’t heard before.And yet, there’s an intelligence in starting with a recognizable sound, especially with a debut album.