Artist: The Womb
Release Date: October, 2013
Genre: Electronic Pop
License: CC BY-NC-SA
[Note: This review has been retract following the retraction of the release from blocSonic. The release is still available as a self-release, however it is no longer under a Creative Commons license.]
So, last week I reviewed ‘Origami Swan’ from The Womb, and had a little comment from Alan Driscoll asking if I would review ‘XX’. Well, shame on me, I somehow got my dates and stuff mixed up, and hadn’t realized that ‘XX’ had been released. For some reason I thought it was coming out this week. I’ll blame the mix up on the hypnotic qualities of Claire Jeddou’s vocals. It seems like anyone that falls under her spell could mix things up easily. But, onwards with this release. First, thing I have to say is: XX???? This is the twentieth release by Alan Driscoll and company? How the hell have I not heard of The Womb before? Heck, how has the world not heard of The Womb? Based on just these two releases, there is a lot more to like in these releases than anything by Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Justin Beiber, Lorde or Robin Thicke. See, for anyone that doesn’t want to listen to music that has the maturity level of a high school student, there isn’t a lot out there these days. Most of the music that passes for “popular” hasn’t really progressed in by very much in the last 10-20 years. Yes, there have been some changes in terms of how some things are expressed, or in how the music is produced and packaged. But it’s just that: it’s packaged expression, it’s not expression that lends itself to complex portrayals of life. And, that is what The Womb does, and does very well. Take for an example, just the opening line of ‘Ex Ex’: “Well look who’s back on the scene / like a Femme Fatale with a time machine / I loved you once / I guess I’ll love you again.” In just that compact piece of lyrics you have a world of expression. You learn about the singer, his relationship to a girl, an image of her, we know they have a past, and a lot more. It’s this kind of lyrical writing that is missing in most pop music today. And, here is Alan Drsicoll consistently producing works that have this kind of intelligent writing behind them. From what I understand from the background of The Womb on their website, Alan Driscoll is fundamentally the only member of the group. He started the group with some friends in high school, but as they drifted apart after school he continued on the name, working with musicians and artists that he wanted to work with. On this release he is working with: Cameron Pikó, Claire Jeddou and Carly Milroy. It is unfortunate that Claire Jeddou’s vocals are only included on two tracks, I would have loved to have heard her on more tracks (specifically, I have the feeling should would have brought a very different feeling to ‘Shut Up And Kiss Me’). Carly Milroy is a really good vocalist, a bit more forceful, and a fair amount more vibrato than Claire. But, I still find myself mesmerized when I am listening to Claire, and not so much with Carly. Still, I did find a few small nit-picks with this release. For example, the first track have a drum sound that is just kind of lifeless. I get the idea that the first track is supposed have a slightly hollow sound to it, but the drum sound isn’t really reinforcing that sonic texture. The rest of the arrangement carries the ghostly evocative quality extremely well, it just seems like the drums track was an oversight. ‘Shut Up And Kiss Me’ starts out with an almost disco-ish sound to it, before becoming more strident and urgent. I kind of wish that I wasn’t left thinking that the song was going to be in a disco style by the opening. And, as I said above, I would have loved to hear Claire singing this track, I think she could have brought out another layer of sexual tension to the lyrics. Some might have issues with length of the tracks on this release, the majority of which are over seven minutes long. But, this shouldn’t be perceived as excessive in the same manner that much progressive rock is seen. These songs have a structure and form, and all develop nicely. The length of the tracks just allows the arrangements to work their way out logically. And none of them sound like they are longer than they should be. So, overall, despite a few minor quips I have in a few spots, this is a really strong release from The Womb. One that has made the impression on me that I need to check out their back catalog. And, this is a release that has found its way into contention for my end of year best of list… Will it make it? I don’t know yet…there’s a lot of competition!