This year we have been barbarously assaulted and abused and as often seriously aroused and invigorated by some exceptional slices and full entanglements of sound by a host of creatively varied artists. Similarly there have been releases which have immersed us in captivation and fascination but maybe few have beguiled as fully as the self-titled debut from UK outfit Short-Haired Domestic. Warmly provocative and radiantly evocative, the album is a sunspot of indie/electro pop which embraced the senses as skilfully as it stroked the imagination, one which is an equal mix of mystery and temptation and a rich pick me up for any day.
Devon-based, Short-Haired Domestic is the new project between Tim Friese-Greene, renowned for his part of Talk Talk and Catherine Wheel as well as his producing skills upon releases from the likes of Lush, Thomas Dolby, Sidi Bou Said and Firefly Burning, and Lee Friese-Greene. Apart from being Tim’s wife she is the lead vocalist/guitarist in Pavlova and was just as potent a part in 90’s London Riot Grrl band Sidi Bou Said. The thought of the pairing alone raised keen anticipation of what could be beneath the art work of the Short-Haired Domestic full-length and fair to say it did not leave us wanting in any department.
Consisting of nine tracks, that mystery we earlier mentioned comes from the fact that each track is sung in a different language by Lee and as we are still battling to earn the control of our mother tongue there was a certain lyrical unknown as each transported us afar. And transported we were by the vocal caresses and warm intimation of her tones and similarly the gentle but firm guidance and suggestiveness of synths and the occasional teasing strokes of acoustic guitar. Rhythmically, the album is just as potent, so often a puppeteer to the body with its persuasive incitements adding another layer to physical captivation and that of the imagination. The encounter is an aural romance and one which only flourished by the listen.
The album is suggested for fans of the likes of Stereolab, Anna Meredith, Gwenno, Monade, Broadcast and others with no quibble here yet across its landscape we would add more eighties sourced inspirations to its call, the likes of The Thompson Twins, The Tom Tom Club and indeed Thomas Dolby coming to mind. It is an album which keeps body and imagination busy from start to finish and immediately gets to work with opener, A song in Latin about the importance of comfortable shoes. Hip swinging rhythms instantly offer a calm but incisive lure around which guitar and synths weave their own melodic coaxing and fair to say there was no resistance in the instinctive sway of one’s own movement in return, one becoming more animated with the organic catchiness brewed within the song. From piano discord to a kaleidoscope of sounds, drama escalates as the contagion, the track increasingly masterful as is its successor.
A song in Spanish addressed to men who drive big cars instantly had the body shaking straight after, its cosmopolitan air and road courting agitation dancing with senses and thoughts as a tinge of a tarmac squabble adds to the evocation seducing ears. The track is superb, like a mix of The Mo-Dettes and Talking Heads and our favourite moment within the release though the following A song in Japanese about trying things out before committing adds a potent case with its initially imposing presence evolving in texture and flavour to paint another suggestively compelling adventure, light and shadows in collusion around the ever radiant tones of Lee.
Through A song in Bulgarian for lovers of gin and A song in German concerning gardens and goodbyes captivation only flourished; the first with Essential Logic-esque brass hinges to its gentle swing amidst the rich seduction of melodic intoxication. The second is a darker melancholy enriched affair, a lonelier urban setting conjured from the initial fertile rural breath and setting shared. Both with individual vision and prowess enthralled as they commanded instinctive movement, the following shuffle of A song in Italian saluting his mother just as manipulative and inescapably infectious for movement and thought.
The album is like a travelogue of continental and emotive destinations, even putting aside the languages escaping Lee’s bewitching throat, her and Tim’s weaves of sound take you afar, the previous track unmistakably Mediterranean in its jazz funk nurtured pop while A song in Danish in which there is much discontent has that unfussy yet precise presence the country presents in its mischievous and deviously infectious saunter.
The final pairing of A song in Hindi for insomniacs with somnambulistic calm and beauty not forgetting increasingly creative vivacity and A song in Yoruba about leaves, memory and time through its provocative serenade on ears and thought bring the album to a riveting close. The first of the two again features as best track contender and each left a breeze of incitement for ears and spirit to respectively feast upon.
Short-Haired Domestic artist and album proved a spring of warmth, adventure and hope spun vitality soaked in real pleasure, something we all desperately need in these testing times.
The Short-Haired Domestic album is out now through F Sharp Productions Ltd; available @ https://short-haireddomestic.bandcamp.com/album/short-haired-domestic-lp
Pete RingMaster 19/11/2020