Creatures Of Love - Debut EP

Owain Paciuszko 10/04/2010

Rating: 3/5

Riding the operatic pop Kate Bush-inspired wave that has born such artists as Bat For Lashes comes this six track from former art students Chris Willsher and Bonita McKinney. There's a grandiose baroque elegance to theme song opener Creatures of Love which showcases, in both lead and backing vocals, Bonita's impressive voice, which has both a deep sound and a rich storyteller's heart; lose the whispering though. Elsewhere, the arrangment is fittingly twinkly and fairytale for this opening track.

Meanwhile Book Thief begins with an introduction that's almost like the build-up to a mid-nineties dance track, and it seems to have taken Markus Zusak's novel (of the same name) as a definite lyrical inspiration with its imagery of death, the military and - naturally - stolen literature. Musically it's sparse, punctuation marks of harpsichord and synth. So Low has an aspirational eighties montage vibe, with ascending bass and processed harp playing out an optimistic melody to good effect, but elsewhere certain choices - most specifically a jarring tannoy annoucment - throw you out of a song that's quite theatrical and effective.

Raindrops of piano glitter over the melancholy chorus of Poppy Seeds which winds up as a bit of an awkward mixture of Bonita's expressive voice butting heads, rather than complimenting, a subdued arrangment. In stark contrast Who's Afraid? is awash with synths, drum machines, layered backing vocals and tells the tale of Edward Albee who wrote the titular play (just add Of Virginia Woolf), and despite its lyrical density it's a fairly standard pop filler which perhaps suffers from reaching too far, cramming too much information into a simple framework when musical experimentation may have helped balance the track better.

Closing track Kicked Down Our Worlds has tinny electric guitars played feverishly over a dance beat, which again has the feeling of an eighties soundtrack, this one a pop-Gothic horror flick with baroque musical leanings. There's a fair bit to like on this debut record which manages to combine a fair ammount of ambition with pop sensibilities to mixed effect.