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Fuzzy Lights - Twin Feathers

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 11 / 11 / 2010

Fuzzy Lights - Twin Feathers
Label: Little Red Rabbit Records
Format: CD


Compelling post-rock on eerily haunting second album from Cambridge-based band Fuzzy Lights, which has expanded on this recording from a duo into a five-piece group

Expanded from the original husband and wife duo of Xavier and Rachel Watkins into a five-piece band ‘Twin Feathers’ is the first album to feature the new line-up. ‘Twin Feathers’ is the strongest set of songs yet released by Fuzzy Lights and possibly the best album that has appeared on the Little Red Rabbit Record label to date. The band’s debut album, ‘A Distant Voice’, was predominately instrumental and was grouped into what is termed ‘post-rock’ or ‘noise-rock’. But with Rachel’s violin and Xavier’s guitar wails gelling remarkably well together many music lovers may have given the album a wide berth by those descriptions. There are more vocals over these nine songs than we expect from Fuzzy Lights and that’s not only a surprise but a mystery as to why they haven’t introduced vocals into their work earlier as both Rachel and Xavier are exceptional vocalists. Both artists almost whisper when they sing, Rachel has enough of that little-girl-lost attractiveness in her vocals to bring even more of a haunted, unsettling feeling to the songs and Xavier, who it could be argued speaks his lines rather than sings them, brings to mind Lee Hazelwood at times. Both vocalists add to the eeriness that the basic violin and guitar brought to the songs on that debut album to produce almost an hour of beautiful yet haunting music on ‘Twin Feathers’. Apart from the revelation of those vocals the first thing that strikes the listener about this album is just how good the tunes are. Fuzzy Lights have avoided the trap of forgetting to add a tune to a song that’s dominated by reverb and shifts from quiet to loud in a heartbeat. Opening the album is ‘Obscura’, an instrumental that features Rachel’s violin weeping buckets of tears over Xavier’s melodic acoustic guitar lines ; when the Theremin makes an unexpected appearance waves of sadness come floating in making the track the most affecting piece of music on ‘Twin Feathers’. It’s also one of the most beautiful. The second song, ‘Fallen Trees’, is simply breathtaking, the first couple of minutes is taken up by a wave of sound, not only are the performances of Rachel and Xavier on violin and guitar disturbingly beautiful but the percussion plays such a large part in the overall sound. When Rachel’s unearthly vocals finally make an appearance it’s totally unexpected and with the very British early sixties folk leanings in her vocals it’s a mix that shouldn’t work but does. After six minutes plus the song ends in a melee of noise that loses none of its preceding beauty. ‘Through Water’ follows and is the first taste we get on ‘Twin Feathers’ of the vocal talents of Xavier. Apart from the Lee Hazelwood comparison mentioned earlier there’s a distinct Tindersticks / Walkabouts feel that Xavier’s vocals bring to these songs. Xavier’s guitar brings a menacing texture to this song and it’s not the last time his whispered, almost spoken words coupled with that brash guitar sound make you strangely yearn for more of this disturbing yet somehow beautiful music. Add a little of Rachel’s haunting vocals towards the end of the song and the effect is stunning. Although there is not a wasted or dull second on this album and each song stands up well some tracks like ‘The Museum Song’ which again is an instrumental where Rachel’s lonely, sad violin says more than a thousand words ever could, and Xavier again picks out a pretty melody on the guitar, just beg to be played again immediately. Again, the nameless drummer nearly steals the show on this track. But just now ‘Rituals’ where both Rachel and Xavier share the vocal duties and that Theremin lifts the eerie quota up to new levels must rate as one of the most hauntingly beautiful songs of the year. ‘Twin Feathers’ is highly recommended to any one who is looking for music that is a little different from the rest while still being accessible. It’s a superb collection of songs. Now can someone tell me who that outstanding drummer is…

Track Listing:-
1 Obscura
2 Fallen Trees
3 Through Water
4 The Museum Song
5 Lucida
6 Rituals
7 Shipwrecks
8 Slowing Time
9 The Sea & The Heather

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