Tasseomancy consists of twins Sari and Romy Lightman. Tasseomancy itself, for those unaware, is the art of reading signs, fortunes, and omens in the dredges of various drinks. Given the name it seems surprising that the band previously called Ghost Bees decided to abandon a poppy, folk sound driven by fun and frolic and yet did not see the inevitable coming. Ulalume is not a step forward for the Lightman twins. It is a step to the side, followed by a step back, with a 180 degree turn towards a stone wall. A stone wall that’s very, very dull.

This is not an album to be hated: if this was an album to be hated, there would at least be an opportunity to be moved in someway. The sounds captured here are unimaginative throughout the majority of the album, and chances for excitement are delivered in a dirge of uninspired vocal lines and unremarkable melodies. It is hard to know exactly what Tasseomancy are trying to achieve with this release. Ghost Bees were always gilded with an edge that put a toe in unknown waters from time to time. Tasseomancy, however, regress to a point where the highlight of this album is in fact the song ‘The Darkness of Things’, which features guest vocals from Taylor Kirk, one third of Timber Timbre, who helped to produce this album. The vocals here are hushed and delicate, in keeping with the delivery from the Lightman twins, but the difference is that Kirk is emphatic to the last, something which we never get from the sister singers. The guitar and mandolin dial down subtly under the raising of horns as the vocals build up at the right moments.

Guitar and mandolin play harmlessly throughout the songs, and every so often some electronic ambience lays itself beneath the melodies, not adding anything in particular to the songs, but also, admittedly, not spurring us to detest the added sound. The opener ‘Anubis’ runs into ‘Heavy Sleep’, similar songs slung from a brooding, misguided bow. Diana follows, offering a glimpse of sunlight in an otherwise drab opening selection, but falls down as it seeks to rest heavily on its chorus, the other parts of the song simply sounding as if they’re filling time until we can get back to the main theme. The latter half of the album brings to mind funeral marches, which seems fitting considering the overall strength of the album. On ‘Up You Go, Little Smoke’ the Lightman twins sing “we pray for forgiveness”, which is pitched quite well, considering that this song actually captures the sisters truly backing what they sing. At most other points on this album it’s as if they’re singing their words grudgingly, not wanting to invest in them any more than they have to. On this song, however, they help us traverse the spectre of Ghost Bees, and point us in a more welcoming direction.

Tasseomancy isn't exactly the opposite of what Ghost Bees was doing, there is understandably a lot of similarities here. But it’s the differences that stand out and that’s what cuts most deep about Ulalume, as you can’t help but feel that the Lightman twins have misjudged their strengths, and overlooked their weaknesses. The sisters sound as if they’re having no fun at all here, distanced from their final sound in a way that seems to worry them, leaving little to be found in this husk of disconnected folk.