Electrelane No Shouts, No Calls

[Too Pure; 2007]

Styles: girls girls girls, nautical exploration, krautwurst
Others: Sleater-Kinney, Sonic Youth, Stereolab

Mia Lily Clarke, you don’t know me but I’m in love with you. I have your poster on my wall. I’ve yet to take out a felt tip marker and encapsulate your face in a heart with the most sacred shade of red, but that will come. With grace and fury you manipulate those strings to your every whim. Static and feedback erupt through the cockles of my heart as you sprawl across your amp to wrangle out the crunchiest of tones. You’re a hell of a guitarist in one heck of a band, and your newest album, No Shouts, No Calls, only further highlights your contributions to the quality. I listen to you shred on songs like “Five” and “After The Call” and I just melt. In actuality your bandmates are something special too, each adding their own distinct (and spicy) flavors to the dish. All cooked together and taste buds are wagging. But Mia, your guitar is making me do backflips. I’m heaping a ton of singular praise, I know, but I don’t want to appear as if I’m fawning.

However, I am fawning.

No Shouts, No Calls is a coupling of previous compulsions that the band modifies into a certified step-forward. While originally debuting in 2001 with Rock It To The Moon, it’s safe to say Electrelane perked up the most floppy ears with 2004’s The Power Out. Infectious, moody, pop-laden hooks filled that little charmer, so it was a bit jarring when the band returned to their concisely instrumental roots with their follow-up effort, Axes. The buzzing, harmonious vocals were nearly absent, and the compositions were positively jammy and Sonic Youth-ian. Now, with their fourth outing, the band return to The Power Out’s playground, equipped with the chops their latest lineup displayed on Axes. The album only benefits from it, becoming a more-than-worthy successor to both previous releases.

Clarke isn’t the only one that deserves mounds of accolades (although her steady and frequent axework is certainly worthy). Keyboardist/vocalist/guitarist Verity Susman is the anchor of the band’s sound, perpetually grounding their experimentations in jaunty tunes that maintain the epic fabric from which they sprung. Her lovelorn voice returns from the depths on most of the album’s songs, often accompanied by the other girls in sweet, sweet melody. “Between The Wolf and The Dog” is the perfect hybrid, with its scathing guitar chugs progressively joined up with vocal whoops and hoots. The trend continues with the 1-2-3-4 punch of the opening tracks. The sequencing of “The Greater Times” through “Tram 21” suggests an attempt by the band’s songs to constantly one-up each other with every grand flourish, never overcompensating and always hitting the right notes.

But it’s in the gently wavy ukulele/organ ballad “Cut and Run” that the band finds the softest home for the progression of their sound. Each lulling fragment brings to mind the notion that Electrelane are one of the best twee groups that never was. It’s a one-of-a-kind darling on the album’s tracklist and a showcase for the band’s talents in the realm of the pleasantly disarming (while cuts such as “Five” highlight the band’s superb ability to crank out intense riffage and blister-forming audio assaults). Electrelane have been proving their weight in salt as stomping students in the school of rock their entire career. And while it’s been a gnarly ride, the restraint they show in a song like “Cut and Run” is something that the girls will hopefully only expand upon further in good time. Susman sings, “I’ll try my best to catch up with you,” but there’s little doubt in mind that she and her cohorts are already lapping the running competition.

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