wears the trousers magazine

tara busch: pilfershire lane (2009)
August 3, 2009, 9:49 am
Filed under: album, review | Tags: , , ,


Tara Busch
Pilfershire Lane ••½
Tummy Touch

Like all artists creating their first album, Tara Busch is presented with a predicament – how to emerge with her own voice intact? This appears to have been especially difficult for Busch, sounding as she invariably does like a cross between Alison Goldfrapp and, to pardon the surname similarity, Kate Bush. Whether these vocal affectations are unconscious or deliberate, it makes the choice of title for the album all the more audacious with its reference to pilfering. By the end of the record, the soundalike quotient becomes slightly grating, and with the added unevenness in the quality of the songwriting, there is a sense that Busch is as elusive and artistically foetal as when the album started. And it does start well. Opener ‘Over The Radio / Can You Read Me?’ introduces Busch’s analogue synth landscape with a fine melodic counterpoint that is easily the most immediate song here, featuring a great tribute to Bowie in the “Major Tom” refrain. However, when the vocal enters it is so close to Kate Bush that you could be forgiven for thinking the wrong disc is playing.

Moving on to the title track only serves to compound the unease. An expansive song that could well have come from Kate Bush’s last album, Aerial, it displays Busch’s capable songwriting ability but suffers a little from another propensity of this artist. That is, her rather self-indulgent experiments with the sonic palette stretches the song too far, meandering rather worryingly for a moment into prog-rock bloatedness. ‘Third Speed Of Light’, ‘Imaginary Audience’ and ‘Superfriends / St George’ appear to be ruminations of a child dreaming about fame as an adult as in the refrain. “There will finally come a day when everybody loves me,” sings Busch, but for all her sonic experiments the heart of these songs is devoid of anything more substantial than filler. On the second half of the album the Goldfrapp influence is inescapable. ‘St George’ in particular suggests that Busch has been listening to Felt Mountain a lot, mimicking that record’s collage of organ loops and utilising the exact same distortion effect on the voice that the band is renowned for. Sadly for Busch, it sounds like an offcut from that infinitely superior album.

‘Get Drunk & Fuck’ sounds closest to the type of artist Tara Busch might be, boasting a rockier distorted sound, a vocal that sounds authentic and a bucketload of swagger that’s sadly lacking from the rest of the album. Again, like many of the tracks, the song’s middle sags with distortion and spectral vocals, until a killer bassline breaks through the ether and plunges the song back into rock territory. The remaining three tracks are pure Goldfrapp, with ‘Tag’s reverse loops, whispery ‘frappian vocals, and melodic similarities to songs from Felt Mountain and Black Cherry. Even the spoken-word parts sound lifted from ‘Utopia’, causing uncontrollable eye rolls. ‘This Is Love’ is perhaps the strongest song on the album, and while it’s not quite able to shake off its influences entirely, Busch somehow breaks through them during the rousing, orgiastic chorus. Album closer ‘We Can See Mars’ repeats earlier mistakes, emulating Goldfrapp’s ‘Pilot’ with none of the eloquence or sophistication.

Pilfershire Lane is a decent enough first album, but showcases an artist who is sonically capable yet struggling to find her own voice. It’s an album that desperately wants to sound unique, but fails. Busch is a technical artist first and foremost, but her attempts to marry those skills to creating a full-length of memorable songs proves to be too irksome overall. Having remixed the likes of Bat For Lashes and Polly Scattergood, it’s not that Busch has a real lack of knowledge about contemporary music. Nor does it seem from her blog that she is simply unwilling to forge ahead into new sonic realms. There’s potential here, but just how much will only become clear once Busch has stopped aping her forebears. Hopefully in time for her next release.

P. Viktor
UK release date: 03/08/09; www.myspace.com/tarabusch


16 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I think Kate Bush is the proper comparison,
Some rare Tara here, among others: http://famousblueraincoats.blogspot.com/2009/07/tara-busch-is-kate-bush-for-modern-age.html

Comment by Cortazar

Lazy journalism, yet another female artist being compared to other female artists. Try another listen and then compare it to Brian Wilson and Bowie, you may get a little closer…

Comment by jt jones

This is a website about female artists, and the comparison is quite apt. So, not really lazy journalism at all. The similarities are inescapable. I fail to see how Pilfershire Lane recalls any Brian Wilson I’ve ever heard.

Comment by Wears The Trousers magazine

I can totally expect reviews to be opinionated and opinion to vary wildly, but this is just a painfully immature and lazy review.

I came to Tara Busch’s Album via music forum discussions about the recording techniques used on Brian Wilson’s Smile, something I’d like to say I’m an expert on. It has been well documented for 3 years now that Tara Busch had been putting together this album with an obsession and drive to recreate many of Brian’s techniques. A fact that was recognized by both Darian Sahanaja and Nicky Walusko. They admired her work so much that they took Tara to meet and discuss recording techniques with Brian many times, and also lent many of the same instruments used on Smile to be used on Pilfershire Lane (read her blog). Tara’s production has been recognized and admired by many of the people around Brian Wilson, including Proban Gregory, Billy Hinche, Nelson Brag and Jeff Foskett. It is recorded that Billy Hinche and Tara Busch spent much time together playing with piano production techniques, and played live together many times.

In order to make the statement – “I fail to see how Pilfershire Lane recalls any Brian Wilson I’ve ever heard.” you must ignore even the most basic Brian Wilson recording and arrangement techniques and just go with – a girl sings high so it sounds like_______fill in the lazy journalist blank here (Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Alison Goldfrapp, Bjork, etc, etc, etc.)

Have a listen to the Beach Boys – Good Vibrations, then Tara Busch – Over the Radio.

The almost unbelievably embarrassing part of this for you is that a google search for “tara busch brian wilson” produces a video of Tara and Brian talking about the drum effect on Do it Again, (that she subsequently used on her track Third Speed of Light) just above your quote – “I fail to see how Pilfershire Lane recalls any Brian Wilson I’ve ever heard.” ;)

Comment by jt jones

I feel no embarrassment whatsoever. I bow to your expert knowledge of Mr Wilson’s music, JT; I personally don’t particularly enjoy it. Nor did I write this review of Tara’s album and have therefore not been involved in the research behind it. While I concede that my rather offhand comment shows that up, I still maintain that the author’s opinions deserve defending against your rather blinkered attack. Whether you agree with the Alison Goldfrapp comparison or not, the vocal similarities to Kate Bush are unmistakable at times, and has been picked up by virtually every single review I’ve read of the record. So, whether Tara is taking her cues from Kate Bush, Brian Wilson, Alison Goldfrapp or S Club bloody 7, I think the author’s overall opinion rings true. That while Pilfershire Lane is no doubt beautifully produced, it is often an indulgent, unoriginal and uneven work.

Comment by Wears The Trousers magazine

Great, we agree! Tara Busch and Kate Bush both are wonderful singers and have amazing vocal ranges, and their names are similar too! Wow, this must be the review of the decade, you’ll be telling me next that you’ve figured out that both the Beasty Boys AND Wutang Clan rap!

The comparison to Goldfrapp again is nothing beyond a beautiful voice. Goldfrapp is a girl who is a great writer and singer who is produced by some of the people behind Portishead and the Bristol trip hop sound of the mid 90’s, she is hardly original, yet was a wonderful pop act at the end of that era – as if Goldfrapp invented “soaring vocals” or did any of her production, Lol!

I stand by what I say, that this is a lazy review. It is shallow and misogynous, all it can see is other female artists, yet misses all the real influence on the album.

If you can be bothered (unlike the reviewer) have a listen to Tara’s album then to Pet sounds, Dark Side of the Moon and Hunky Dory, these should be stadard listening to anyone in music. There you will find her well documented influences. It hardly takes any research. Tara’s album is fundamentally a work or rock with some electronic production. The techniques Tara has legitimately pursued here were around before Goldfrapp, Busch and even Bush were in diapers, and you fail to pick up on that.

Not every female stands in front of a mirror with a hairbrush wanting to be the next Madonna. Some want to be Bowie or Mcartney.

Comment by jt jones

Your lack of integrity is not surprising, deleting comments that argue points different form yours, yet stating that you ” maintain that the author’s opinions deserve defending ” is about as low as a journalist can get.

Fox News has a place waiting for you. You’d be perfect.

Comment by jt jones

actually, JT, I was asleep and have only just approved your comments. this site is a UK based one that keeps different hours to you.

I think it’s hilarious that you accuse us of being misogynous!! have you actually looked around the site at all? do you know what we’re about? now who’s written something embarrassing?

Comment by Wears The Trousers magazine

I’m glad my review has incited such passionate debate. That’s the point of criticism. I would agree with the comments of the editor here – this is a magazine about female artists/bands. That doesn’t mean that male artists do not influence their work. I mentioned Bowie in the review did I not? As for lazy journalism, well, the fact is that Tara’s voice bears astonishing resemblance to Kate Bush and Alison Goldfrapp. It is a fact that cannot be ignored. Nor cannot it be ignored that there are some songs on this album that have an overbearing likeness to Goldfrapp’s Felt Mountain. You only have to play Pilots and We Can See Mars and anyone with ears can hear the similarities. This is not laziness – it is obviousness.

The point about production – I take JT’s point about Brian Wilson and Pink Floyd. I know Dark Side of the Moon very well – my sister played it constantly during our teenage years. But Pilfershire Lane is no Dark Side of the Moon, nor is it Pet Sounds. These albums married dedicated production and recording with expert songwriting. They built their innovative sonic worlds on a strong architecture of material. This is where Busch comes undone. Her songwriting is simply not good enough to warrant such comparisons, hence why I didn’t mention those two records in my review.

I am less inclined to respond to the more hysterical remarks on here, though I hasten to add that they entertained me. I’m glad my opinion (which is representative of ‘me’ only) has caused such a flurry of excitement. P.Viktor

Comment by P.Viktor

You seem to make huge assumptions about me, but that’s fine (and your prerogative). I’m glad you liked Tara’s album (perhaps her record company can employ you?) – I did not. And, misogyny is one thing I can never be accused of. Thanks, P

Comment by P.Viktor

[…] Richardson Andrews 25/8] 25 Little Dragon – Machine Dreams [Matt Bregazzi 24/8] 26 Tara Busch – Pilfershire Lane [P Viktor 3/8] 27 Susanna & The Magical Orchestra – 3 [Alan Pedder 17/8] 28 God Help The Girl […]

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