wears the trousers magazine


ebony bones: bone of my bones (2009)
July 9, 2009, 4:11 pm
Filed under: album, review, video | Tags: , , ,

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Ebony Bones!
Bone Of My Bones •••
Sunday Best 

It’s not always the wisest course for someone seeking musical credibility and now-ness to plaster their Genesis influences across the front of their debut album. In the case of Ebony Bones! (real name Ebony Thomas) though, it’s the original Genesis that interests her. Not the Peter Gabriel incarnation before they let the bald bloke start singing, but the biblical book of the same name. Bone Of My Bones is a line from the creation myth where Adam turns to his newly created spouse and tells her she shall be called woman because she’s made out of his ribs, and upon this passage has hung several thousand years of Judeo-Christian justification for the patriarchy. It’s doubtful that Thomas will be mistaken as an apologist for the Christian right, or ever be taken as literal truth. Her Bones are considerably less dusty and more multifarious than your average revival meeting, even if at times her sound seems designed to encourage a few impromptu hallelujahs. Eclectic is the by-word. A colourful cartoon mash-up in the vein of M.I.A. or Santigold, with maybe a nod or two to Brighton’s The Go Team, Thomas makes the kind of Afro-punk racket that could even get the vicar jumping. Of fright if nothing else.

Starting with a bassy spoken word introduction that rumbles up from the depths of hell, it’s a headlong charge into the sub-editor baiting ‘W.A.R.R.I.O.R.’, the full stops between each letter emphasising that she really, really means it. It’s a mélange of handclaps, rock riffs and fist-pumping defiance not seen in these parts since Toyah Wilcox consigned her facepaints to the keepsakes cupboard. ‘We Know All About U’ marries the sound of a youth samba drumming group performing at a smalltown carnival to a doom-laden keyboard riff, creating a song that’s arguably interchangeable between a salvo against creeping state Orwellianism and an unlikely stalker’s anthem that still manages to pose the big question, “why do we smile at the people that we hate the most?” It spread like swine flu on its initial self-release and was introduced to the radio as ‘The Hottest Single In The World Today’. Which might make you question the standard of the opposition.

In ‘The Story Of St.Ockwell’, her anger is transmuted from youthful petulance into real political purpose with a visceral barrage aimed at the Metropolitan Police over the 2005 shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, and a society that turns educated immigrants into dispensable low-paid serfs. The polemic seems exhilaratingly real, and the rock-dance charge that remembers its brevity lingers after the last drum beat. ‘In G.O.D. We Trust (Gold, Oil & Drugs)’ continues the politics but to a lesser effect as Thomas’s scattergun approach offloads its volley at too wide a target to be truly lethal. There are not-completely-alarming overtones of Lily Allen on the radio-friendly ‘I Guess We’ll Always Have NY’, which swaps individuality for a stab at mid-paced pop-R&B mass appeal. The resulting track feels contrived and self-conscious and bores by the third verse.

Deflating wedding bells signal the start of ‘I’m Ur Future X Wife’ in which Thomas resumes being pissed off over a bass-heavy rumble, cynically deconstructing the romantic ideal of marriage as little more than a convenient means to acquire gold. The venom gun gets turned on poisonous friends on ‘Smiles & Cyanide’ as a deceptively angelic choral vocal with a comedy RP delivery spits out nasty words at those two-faced acquaintances who regularly bring you down. A monotonous looped string sample classily menaces as an added rap break creates the album’s most convincingly original moment. The Bow Wow Wow-style Burundi beats of album closer ‘Don’t Fart On My Heart’ underpins Thomas’s sneers of playground sarcasm at yet another wandering boyfriend, it’s 2007 limited edition release winning her mucho radio play and the swoons of Zane Lowe.

The questionable judgement of ubiquitous DJs aside, Bone Of My Bones is a lovable, if hit and miss, piece of work from an endearing talent. Thomas is a buzzing bundle of great ideas, mixes with rabid old punks, and has soaked up some fine English pop moments into her youthful being. It might often lapse into sounding as if a crèche full of kids has been let loose in the music room, but there’s enough here to suggest that if Thomas keeps true to her better (angrier) instincts those missed moments will be positively reconfigured quicker than an ancient deity can create a flawed universe.

Martyn Clayton
UK release date: 13/06/09; www.myspace.com/ebonybones


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[…] Heney 29/8] 13 Emmy The Great – Edward EP (First Songs) [Richard Steele 5/8] 14 Ebony Bones – Bone Of My Bones [Martyn Clayton, 9/7] 15 The Dead Weather – Horehound [Chris Catchpole 14/7] 16 Julie Peel – […]

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