Label: Balling The Jack Release date: 16/08/10 Website: Myspace Buy/MP3: Amazon / MP3 Moulettes bounce between more genres than a Pitchfork critic on a space hopper. The band is comprised of seven multi-instrumentalists whose repertoire encompasses autoharps, kazoos, trombones, cellos, and plenty more. Most importantly, Moulettes’ members have plenty of pedigree; but does their new, manic, ensemble add up to more than the sum of its considerable parts? Within the opening minutes of first track ‘Recipe for Alchemy’ we are treated (and it certainly is a treat) to a mixture of bluesy bass and sultry, jazzy vocals, before pizzicato violins and bassoon (I kid you not) turn the tune into grinning, demented chamber-pop. The subsequent ‘Cannibal Song’ is more of a gaelic jig crossed with a morose folk ballad. The fact that this kind of variety continues throughout the album and is continuously pulled off with utter, utter aplomb is testament to how a band full of eclectic, incredibly skilled multi-instrumentalists can be a good thing. Now, far be it from me to dispute the argument that no music is original anymore, but Moulettes’ debut album is a work of such unrestrained ambition, talent and imagination that it's honestly very hard to compare it to anything else I've heard quite some time. The chamber pop element perhaps has some parity in Paloma Faith and The Mummers, whose excellent remix of ‘Sleepyhead’ wouldn’t feel too out of place on this record. The folky instrumentation and song-writing obviously have plenty of reference points as we start to look back on the folk revival, but it still feels more traditional than the tones found in Mumford or Marling’s ditties say, more akin to Peggy Sue (she’s ditched the Pirates now I understand). But does it work? Is it all tied together? Certainly; so that in many ways you might never notice the complex array of rhythms, harmony and interlocking musical ideas, the variety of timbres and dynamics, underneath the vocal hooks and precision time-keeping. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the excellent 'Requiem', which features an array of rhythmic changes that are subtle but effective and an unexpectedly moving set of vocal harmonies. The fact that a song this good is not easily the best on the album really says something. Judging this album on its own merits, it would be cruel to highlight any weaknesses. The only thing stopping this album from setting everyones’ world on fire is the unfortunate truth that many won’t dig the more classical swathes of instrumentation, the lack of reassuring genre cornerstones, and the fact that none of the songs will lend themselves well to heavy house remixes. I cannot recommend this album enough to anyone suffering from musical apathy in the slightest, to any lovers of the truly alternative, to any honest music lovers. It’s restrained where it needs to be, catchy without being cheap, and consummately well put together. I don’t know what or who a Moulette is, but after hearing this record I hope to a generic deity that I have a chance to be reacquainted with it/them in the very near future. Photobucket