Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Album review: DEAR READER - Idealistic Animals

Highlights:  Monkey (Go Home Now), Giraffe (What’s Wrong With Us), Bear (Young’s Done In)
That cover should tell you a lot about Dear Reader (there’s something very smart about the repetition of letters in the band’s name, but I can’t put my finger on it) and its sound. A sweet, slightly childish, somewhat whimsical collection of chamber pop songs. But it’s not Kate Nash territory – it’s somehow deeper, and for all their sweetness and loveliness, the tunes have an edge and are exquisitely crafted indie beauties that betray a truly strong songwriter.

Idealistic Animals is a concept album about a musician maturing or some such thing. You really wouldn’t care. The list of songs consists of names of animals representing, I believe, different stages of one’s life/development. Admittedly it’s not extremely intriguing, but as long as it’s not too silly… It’s not. Actually. it’s quite lovely and charming, and when you hear a melody so timeless as the one on “Monkey”, ‘amusing’ miraculously transforms into ‘amazing’.

The arrangements are probably as diverse as the genre allows. Majestically cute piano lines are interlaced with violins, delicate guitar chords, brilliant use of brass (“Whale”). Often it’s all mixed together, but the result is never clunky or cluttered.   

Seeing how ‘sweet’ never gives in to ‘sugary’, I almost ended up giving it an eight. And when you hear the lilting, swirling “Bear”, the aural pleasure becomes almost overwhelming. I guess I could mention that some of the hooks are not too convincing or that some of these songs are more charming than great, but in the end you’d have to put it all down to innate cynicism.


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