Muarena Helena - Fierce Pale Hen
Owain Paciuszko 15/01/2009
This hugely atmospheric record is somehow both instantly accessible and also rather obtuse; opening with the very catchy interweaving guitar and piano lines of long flat there's the feel of Pavement but fronted by a soft-voiced lady; the singing however is foggy amongst the music, and seems almost irrelevant, the track working excellently on its own, the voice is just another instrument left for you to interpret rather than to understand. The collision throughout this track between the garage guitars and the tender pianos is delightful and different.
This is the fourth album from this London based band and it is an extremely accomplished record, feeling like a whole (the track-listing is divided into two parts, with each song as a sub-part, though the tracks don't bleed together) well-thought out record, with each successive track an evolution from the one before.
Wayne Coyne-like vocals pop in as a gloriously upbeat piano interrupts fuzzy guitar squall on With White Blazes On Their Chests, there are jazzier-folk moments such as Gangland Hand Gestures, which has a touch of the Bowerbirds about it. In general Muarena Helena wrangle together a range of influences, stir them about and convene them into a diverse and intriguing whole, filtered through their own sensibility. This is a pleasingly easy listen, yet parts of it do wash over you but in a nice, hypnotic way.