Gemma Ray - Rise Of The Runts

Ian Atherton 07/10/2008

Rating: 4/5

A thing of gentle beauty, Rise Of The Runts was tucked at the heart of Gemma Ray's smokily gothic debut solo album The Leader, which was released in June to quietly enthusiastic reviews. Shimmering into life with a soothing strum and a twinkling glockenspiel, the sixties-tinged tune gradually builds around Ray's honey-sweet voice, which liltingly unfurls a mysterious tale set at Pembrokeshire's Stack Rocks, a UFO hotspot where “every one of us can write our name in the sand and walk away”.

As a backing choir join at the third chorus, the effect is both calmly cinematic and charmingly uplifting, and the contrast with Ray's rawer, bluesy material is striking. Melodic, mellifluous and melancholic, Rise Of The Runts is stirring stuff which deserves to be heard by those who appreciate well-constructed, mature swoon-pop.

And if you particularly appreciate well-constructed, mature swoon-pop with a bonkers video featuring a Staffordshire bull terrier and six people in masks, dayglo costumes and wacky hats frolicking enigmatically in a field, then it seems to be your lucky day. Enjoy.