Filed under: album, review | Tags: matt bregazzi, memoirs at the end of the world, the postmarks
Memoirs At The End Of The World ••••
Album covers, as iconic as they can be, serve a seldom acknowledged purpose: at their best they reflect the very content of the music within, giving us the merest hint of what sonic experience lies ahead (and, of course, if we might like it or not). The sight, then, of Postmarks’ frontwoman Tim Yehezkely staring out from the cover of their third album, Memoirs At The End Of The World, like a latter day brunette Nico on the cover of a 1960’s spy thriller poster, creates a fitting visual accompaniment to a cinematic record. It’s not hard to imagine many of the cuts here framing the celluloid adventures of James Bond himself; lush arrangements dominate almost the entire record, and Yehezkely’s laidback, almost nonchalant vocals lend a suitable air of detachment reminiscent of 007’s attitude to those who cross his path.
Opener ‘No One Said This Would Be Easy’ sets the scene appropriately with a grand staircase sweep of flourishing strings echoing some of Morrissey’s recent solo work, before the song is picked up and propelled along with subtle but driving bass. Sharp brass duels with a punchy rhythm on ‘Don’t Know Till You Try’, with both eventually ceding to a sweet chorus featuring layered vocals and wobbly effects, while ‘All You Ever Wanted’ moves from a Portishead-style intro to a strolling rhythm with offbeat guitar strums, adding an uplifting chorus to complete the transformation.
The notion of the classic chase thriller suggested on the cover finally materialises fully on the dramatic ‘For Better…Or Worse?’, as sinister keys, dark synths and stabbing strings add layers of menace to proceedings kicked off with distorted, Sonic Youth-style guitar. It’s hard to avoid the feeling that the trio are in full flow at this point, and the sense of tension in the track quickly escalates to provide the album’s most thrilling moment; this is a band (and most likely a producer) throughly enjoying themselves.
As Memoirs At The End Of The World deals chiefly in creating moods and feelings, it is hard to see an obvious single, but ‘Go Jetsetter’ is about as close as it gets with its sunny strings, jaunty vocal and naïve chorus, on which Yehezkely sounds uncannily like Amy McDonald on a more restrained day. The smooth lounge shuffle of ‘The Girl From Algenib’, meanwhile, is the longest cut here, and the group hit a languid groove, with Yehezkely intoning “rescue the girl from Algenib” but not sounding at all as though she means it. Maybe that girl is stuck in the song but doesn’t want to be rescued, and who could blame her?
In fact, it is just as easy for the listener to disappear into the music, only to wonder where it all went; the forty-five minute running time for the record seems to have lapsed just as soon as it has begun, testament surely to the meticulously sustained mood throughout. The overall impression is one of a slightly extended movie soundtrack, with each track complementing the mood of an unwritten scene (even the frequently used Bond-on-the beach scene is catered for here by the lilting Tropicana of ‘I’m In Deep’). And yet these selections are by no means throwaway background music – it is impossible to avoid being drawn in to the record despite, or perhaps even because of, the distance which Tim Yehezkely at times seems to place between herself and the listener.
A record which achieves exactly what it sets out to do, Memoirs At The End Of The World is music for a lifestyle more glamorous and dramatic than our own. But, thanks to The Postmarks, we can all escape there for a short while. To be listened to with a cool gin and tonic, a knowing wink and your best evening wear.
UK release date: 01/02/10; www.myspace.com/thepostmarks
‘No One Said This Would Be Easy’ [live]
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