For someone who professes to write about as much Glasgow based or related electronic music as possible, I've no real excuse for not picking up on Helen Marnie's ace debut album Crystal World until now. I love Ladytron, bought the RSD 12" of The Hunter, but somehow overlooked the album until this week. It was released in June 2103 for God's sake! Thankfully, I've now put that right and, since the weekend, haven't stopped playing it. If you're a fan of electropop, synthpop or whatever you want to call it, you really should give this album a go.
The album opens with the brilliant The Hunter (video below) which is a pulsing electropop song which, inevitably I guess, brings to mind Ladytron albeit a Ladytron not frightened to put a pop sheen on things. As with most of the tracks on here, the song has a ridiculously catchy chorus and it's a really strong start to the album. It's topped however by track 2, We Are The Sea, which is as good an electronic song as I've heard in years. Chvrches have rightly had much praise over the last couple of years but We Are The Sea is as good if not better as anything on The Bones Of What You Believe. The chorus again is the key here - it's stunning. If you try one song from the album, try this one. Two tracks in and you're hooked and Hearts On Fire keeps you there. A moodier slice of synthpop than the openers, it brings to mind Pet Shop Boys more mournful moments like Kings Cross or Behaviour which is certainly no bad thing. I will stop going on about choruses at some point as it's probably boring you now but once again, the chorus here is brilliant. Helen's ear for melody and the way her voice mixes with the electronics throughout really makes this album stand out and the opening three tracks are as good as any opening to an album as I've heard in a long time. Next up, Violet Affair has a 60's feel to it, mixing a French pop style with a slight psychedelic feel to great effect before The Wind Breezes On, slows the pace with a slice of moodier electronics that still retains a pop like feel quite marvelously.
Sugarland is a really cool track; it focuses more on beats and has a more driving, pulsing feel to it than anything on here bar The Hunter. The different styles of song used throughout all work which is something worth noting. Nothing stands out in a bad way or seems out of place. High Road returns to the pop theme, sounding like an updated version of Yazoo, producing a perfect slice of synthpop, before Laura then transforms the mood again. It's a really interesting track, layered with different vocal effects and reminiscent in places of Goldfrapp's quieter moments. The penultimate track Submariner is one of the album's standouts. A nearly 8 minute long electronic pop masterclass, the song is a superb example of how good electronic music can be when it's kept clean and simple and its extended outro brings to mind the poppier side of Vince Clarke's more experimental moments. We then end on Gold, a brilliant end to a brilliant album, a track that once again has one of those choruses that you can't help but fall in love with.
Like I said at the outset, I've no idea at all how I missed out on this album when it was released. It really is a gem of an album and it's one that anyone who has even a passing interest in electronic pop should hear. There may be easy comparisons to be made with Ladytron or Chvrches but doing so misses the point. This album stands on its own and, if you do want to compare it to The Bones Of What You Believe, then it is at the very least the equal of that and is deserving of as much attention as that album has had. Go and check this out right now.
Crystal World is available from Les Disques Du Crepuscule ( http://lesdisquesducrepuscule.com/ ) and on download.
Marnie Facebook https://www.facebook.com/helen.marnie.official?fref=ts
Marnie Twitter https://twitter.com/search?q=marnie&src=typd