review archive

The Chemistry Experiment – The Melancholy Death Of… (Fortuna Pop!)

The Chemistry Experiment have emerged blinking with an album that’s off-kilter and out of step. It’ll catch you unawares and, a suede-gloved hand clamped softly over your mouth, drag you down an alleyway you’ve never noticed before into a world of blown-out glamour and fading fin de siecle charm.

 

The sleepy-eyed swoon of opener ‘Starlite Ballroom’ is the sonic chloroform that wipes you out and pulls you into The Chemistry Experiment’s world. Wistful trumpet and gently twinkling organ imbue proceedings with an air of delicious heavy-limbed bliss, languorously lulling you…until your eyes snap open. What was that? ‘2.30am: Killing Puffins’ is the kind of curious, befuddling between-song electronic soundscape beloved of Super Furry Animals and is a hint that you’re in for an intriguing ride here.

Flute and organ, glockenspiel and sampler rub up against Steven J. Kirk’s deep Lloyd Cole voice, building songs which steadily, unhurriedly unfold into velvety landscapes of lovingly crafted sound; whimsical curiosities that seep a heart-sick European decadence. ‘Thoughts On Gravity’ weaves an eerie melancholy – the sound of meandering unhappily around Budapest or Prague or somewhere that you’ve fled to in an attempt to forget. Majestic orchestration and crashing cymbals make you think, “Cor! Remember all the good bits of My Life Story?” ‘Glue and Paper’ folds together layers of organ, flute and guitar and sounds like the haunted house pastoral psychedelia Bam Caruso Records used to unearth. Swivelling on a note, we trip seamlessly into ‘You’re The Prettiest Thing’ and the tarnished glitterball spins faster for a chocolately slice of gentle, joyful funk. As the band's press release suggests, this is reminiscent of Pulp, but far smoother than their nylon, elbows in the ribs disco. Dainty dance fever. Meanwhile, that flute appears again on ‘Good Morning’ snaking beatifically, leading you into the middle of a cascading tangle of sound tinged with the waft of incense, folk and guitar-riffing ‘70s rock. Blimey.

‘Stopped Clocks’ ticks and tocks uneasily like taking a spin round a mournful Trumpton. Then we’re flung back onto the dance floor to slide sinuously around to ‘What Are We Good For’s squidgey heart-beat electro funk. And so it goes, songs by turn are opiated, or shivering or whirling you into outstretched arms. The title of this record is ‘borrowed’ from Tim Burton’s book ‘The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy’, a collection of poems that are simultaneously hilarious, heart-breaking and plain nasty. The Chemistry Experiment glide through a similar twisted topsy turvey world. Close your eyes and breathe in deep now.

R.R.R.G: Patchwork kiss and make up misinterpretation

www.chemistryexperiment.co.uk

When would young Oyster Boy come out of his shell?
[back to record reviews]