Thursday, 15 September 2011

Pocketbooks - Carousel (Odd Box)

Clarity is what's needed at the moment. Something to blow the uncertainty away for once and all. A kind flush through of everything. Luckily, Pocketbooks' second, superb album, 'Carousel' is here to provide all of that and more.

'Flight Paths', this scrumptious band's debut album, is only two years old, but it seems longer than that. In between we've had sporadic live performances outside of the capital, and half the year most of the band are up to their necks in organising Indietracks. You can forgive them the two year wait. Life, and indiepop festivals, do seem to get in the way a bit.

'Carousel' is markedly different to its predecessor. If 'Flight Paths' was snotty, charmingly naive and marked the band's arrival, then 'Carousel' is their autumn album. It's all about introspection and staring out of windows and feeling a little bit lost with life.

Outsiders (those people who are considered that by others, not people who call themselves "outsiders" - they're fucking idiots) will love this album. Throughout there's a desire to break free of life's little obstacles and celebrate a little. Listen to 'The sky at night' for an ace example of this.

And this is a common theme. Love and life is lost - or couldn't attained. And if it has, there's a sense of restlessness. I think that's something a lot of us can relate to in one way or another. 'Sound of the carnival' is particularly knowing.

But, hey, let's not get too deep, chumps. What, essentially, you've got in 'Carousel' is a gem of a pop album. With Andy Hudson's twinkling keyboard and Emma Hall's amazing, crystal clear voice to the fore. And this time everything's backed up by some perky strings. I'm not gonna use the word 'mature', but it's pleasing to see a band can move on without losing any of their pop sensibilities. Chancers like Belle and Sebastian should take note.

If you want to force me to pick a favourite, then it'd have to be 'The Beaujolais Lanes' - a truly affecting mixture of words and music that deserves a much wider audience than it'll get. It's the sort of song you can imagine filling up a huge TV studio, whilst Ant & Dec look on. Y'know the sort of thing. It's a yes from me, anyway.

When Pocketbooks played some of these songs to open Indietracks it was a bit of emotional experience for some of us. That they manage to carry that feeling onto record is testament to how special they are, and this album is. Proof, if it were needed, that pop remains supreme.

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