Saturday, 11 September 2010

REVIEW: Dinosaur Feathers - Fantasy Memorial

As one of the H-T-A Tenfor10 band picks, I probably should have been on Dinosaur Feathers' debut release much sharper than I actually am. I did, however, pick it up at the start of summer, giving it plenty of time to fuel the season for which it was most assuredly created.

From their previous EP, 2009's Early Morning Risers, it was clear from the  breezy sound and calypso-tinged beats that this band deserved the sun to be shining on their performances. New album Fantasy Memorial kicks off in no less tropical fashion, with the island paradise bounce of I Ni Sogoma gloriously light on its feet. It's vaguely sleepy yet subtle groove is infectious, invoking as one listens a state of dazed relaxation. Paired with the following upbeat swing of Vendela Vida, replete with flamenco style guitar plucks and singalongathon moments throughout, Dinosaur Feathers open up with encouraging panache.

MP3: Dinosaur Feathers - Vendela Vida
Taken from debut album Fantasy Memorial, out now

Buy it at Insound!

Teenage Whore is far less aggressive than it might sound, perhaps with some buried malice deep below but masked entirely by airy harmonies and 'ba da da baaa' sing along sections. Though not a high point, it keeps proceedings ticking over nicely, ready for Family Waves to bound in on its quirky synths and deliver a stand out cut that could have originated from the Beach Boys catalog, had they unlimited access to laptop production technologies. 

Family Waves by Dinosaur Feathers from Big Ugly Yellow Couch on Vimeo.

Sleeping In provides another easy listening (not that easy....just, gentle easy...yeah) experience, preceding long time favourite History Lessons. Staccato sections rub suggestively up against the flowing melodies and omnipresent synths to create a tune that lingers long in the memory, ready to provide yet another crowd sing-song at its next live outing. Another bona fide gem, vying for the album highlight crown. 

The album winds down from there on in, with Crossing the Cannon and Holy Moses in particular slowing things to a gentle but pleasant crawl along the beach. Know Your Own Strength is a little more uptempo just to keep things varied enough and hold the ear, whilst closer Fantasy Memorial throws the kitchen sink into the sound for good measure. 

Riding in on a skittering beat, buried acoustic strums, and building to the enigmatic refrain of "We're losing something beautiful / I'll build my fantasy memorial", it could be taken in a variety of ways. Perhaps the music being the memorial, to a sound that stems from a more innocent era but now lies buried beneath four decades of more emotionally fraught genres? Perhaps not, but it's fun to speculate, as part of the intrigue in Fantasy Memorial lies in the possibility that the sunny melodies cover up more complex lyrical subjects.

Without doubt, this album can be (and has been) listened to on a blazing hot day as pure, mellow escapism. The added dimension of delving into the often bittersweet words is just something that brings about repeat listens, regardless of season. 

It's a joy to report that this particular pick for 2010 has delivered an album that will undoubtedly see them figure on lists as the year draws to a close. Even the dead of winter won't stop them, I'll warrant.

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