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Helene - Routines

  by John Clarkson

published: 18 / 7 / 2006



Helene - Routines
Label: Select Label
Format: CD

intro

Musically diverse, evocative second album from North London-based band Helene, produced by former Cocteau Twins member Simon Raymonde


When a veteran musician and producer describes a group that he has recently produced as “the best band” he has ever worked with, and its singer in similarly rapturous tones as “the best lyricist” in the country, one is inclined to be cynical, to suspect that, rather like a band bragging their latest album is their best record to date, he is perhaps trying to bolster up both the group and his own production, neither of which in fact are very good at all. In the case of ex-Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde, and Helene, the North London band whose second album ‘Routines’, he recently produced, it ,however, is probably true. Helene may well be the best group he has ever worked with. ‘Routines’ is fantastic, and its sultry-voiced singer and lyricist Helene Dineen is a unique one-off. Like all good lyricists, Dineen leaves things just open enough for her listener to put his or her own impression on things, but at the same time has the ability to neatly chronicle events that in one form or another will be familiar to many. The brooding, reflective pop of ‘Routines’ tells of the comfort of mundane routine in times of stress, and in Dineen’s own case her battle against depression (“Got my mobile phone/With a shaky resolution/I’ll get through this day alone”). The gorgeous, chiming garage rock of ‘Apostille’ finds her cutting loose from and giving a final kiss-off to a one-time friend, and possible former lover, who has long since started to exasperate her. (‘Can’t hear myself think/So let’s not keep in touch/I might wanna hear what you say/if you didn’t talk so much”). Harmonic country blues number ‘Could I Go Backwards ?’meanwhile finds her asking herself at which point in her life things first started to go wrong (‘Could I go backwards/to get where I was/before bad things happened/like in the ‘Wizard of Oz’?”) Raymonde gives ‘Routines’ a dreamy gloss and sheen. Helene perhaps draw closest comparison in their evocative 4 am sound with Mazzy Star, the latter Velvet Underground and Pennyblackmusic favourites Anna Kashfi. As diverse though in their musical ability as Dineen in her subject matter, they also incorporate into ‘Routines’ 60’s folk on opening track ‘Firstloveforever’ which tells of Dineen’s fear of commitment, an Ennio Morricone Spaghetti Western-style instrumental with ‘Beat Dream’, and slow-motion, hazy psychedelia on the last track ‘O Tina’, which is about a friend’s betrayal. ‘Routines’ is a totally absorbing and mesmerizing experience. Musically diverse and thought-challenging, it is an excellent offering.



Track Listing:-
1 First Last Forever
2 Apostille
3 Could I Go Backwards
4 This Is All We Need To Know
5 Sammy Is A Soldier Now
6 Beat Dream
7 Routines
8 Nothing To You
9 I Need A Girl
10 Forever In A Day
11 St Lawrence
12 O Tina



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interviews


Interview (2006)
Helene - Interview
Formed out of the ashes of late 90’s indie group the Barefoot Contessa, atmospheric London band Helene have just released their second album 'Routines' which was produced by former Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde. Singer Helene Dineen talks to John Clarkson


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