Thursday, 17 September 2009
I am going to clear the decks at the start of this review because otherwise it will become suffused with comparison and analysis of Dial M For Murder's fine debut album will be irreparably damaged as a result. And yet...they are heavily indebted to a slew of reference points and similar sonic palette to an American band whose name begins with 'I' and whose singer has recently released a solo album under a pseudonym. There, the weight is off...
On their debut Fiction OF Her Dreams Swedish duo David Ortenlof and Andy Lantto have conjured an album of (in their own words) “dark wave indietronica”. Think brooding, plangent minor key guitar chords, tired synths and clipped vocals infused with a surprising lightness of touch. As the album progresses there is a gradual widening and contrast between the dolorous haze of the lower key numbers and the deft indie-pop of previous single 'Oh No' and songs such as 'Hell No', all fuzztone driven bass and angular, jagged guitar.
What Dial M For Murder capture so clearly in their songs is a sense of emotional vacuity, of sleaze, of the underbelly of a dark sepulchral city someplace in the frozen north of Europe. Aesthetic is obviously important for this duo and they capture that sense of claustrophobic, somnabulant chiaroscuro perfectly throughout the record, with the swirling atmospherics of the maudlin 'NYC (Now You Care)' in particular perfectly matching its tale of disconnectedness and isolation.
If I was cruel I would say that this album has arrived five years behind the curve. Brevity is the trick; the ten songs that comprise the album are over in less than thirty minutes. This may sound self-effacing – after all if an album's good surely it should last longer. But structurally the songs are simplistic, and having dispensed with a drummer the lack of naturalism and instinctual feel are replaced with a military precision which suit the short rushes of music.
Comparisons between Dial M For Murder and other bands of this ilk are valid, but unfair and injudicious. It may lazily anchor a review but it is not as if Dial M For Murder are completely hamstrung by their sonic references. It also fails to appreciate that Fiction Of Her Dreams is an album of ten excellently realised dark indie goodies.
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