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Music Review

Guillemots: 'Red'

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Guillemots: 'Red'
Released on Monday, Mar 24 2008

Despite scoring a series of hit singles and bagging a Mercury nomination for their debut album, 2006's Through The Windowpane, Guillemots remain on the peripheries of pop stardom. Fyfe Dangerfield may have one of the greatest names in rock 'n' roll, but we doubt he gets stopped for autographs down his local 24-hour Tesco. Nevertheless, thanks to the group's genre-straddling tunes, which betrayed a veritable kaleidoscope of influences from jazz to rock, Windowpane earned them a decent-sized, fervently loyal fan-base. For those in the know, Dangerfield's crew offered textured, intelligent pop songs that politely tugged at the ears and gently caressed the senses.

Two years later, Guillemots seem determined to break into the mainstream. Red finds the group shedding their old image (in many ways, not unlike a more sophisticated version of Coldplay) in favour of muchos larking about with synths, disco balls and a whopping great sound-system. Folk who purchased Fyfe and co's debut after hearing the single 'Trains To Brazil', but were disappointed by the introspective, softly-softly nature of the rest of the album, should find plenty to love here. Lead single 'Get Over It' is a sizzling glam rock-stomp; opener 'Kriss Kross' manages to sound both cinematic and electro (and finds time for a killer chorus to boot), while the driving guitars and disco beats of 'Last Kiss' sound like they were pilfered from the laptop of Girls Aloud producers Xenomania. Snow Patrol, this is not!

Inevitably, several moments recall the mellower tones of Windowpane. 'Falling Out Of Reach' finds Dangerfield, armed with acoustic guitar, string section and gospel backing vocalists, in full-on R&B balladeer mode, while he's at his most reflective on 'Words', dissecting a fractured relationship over a glistening, piano-driven melody. The effect on both is as smooth and moreish as a Galaxy caramel. Not that Dangerfield's entirely restrained, of course: his high-pitched vocals on 'Standing On The Last Star' will have Mika tightening his trousers in envy, its oddball lyrical eccentricity ("Somebody left the taps on in the sky") matching anything from Windowpane.

This sophomore album is the sound of a band growing confident enough to dabble outside their comfort zone. There's nothing cutting edge about Guillemots' approach to music-making, but it's refreshing to find a band so damned determined not to stay still. Though neither culturally significant nor truly progressive, Red should make Dangerfield's shopping run that bit less straightforward in future.

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