I've been meaning to write about this album for well over a year now. When I first got the CD (thanks, Rob), I left it in the car player for a while, which meant that I heard it several times, but not very attentively. What with the distractions of driving and the interference of various noises, I always miss something when listening in the car--sometimes a lot, as my ten-year-old Honda Civic is not especially quiet. Now, having finally gotten around to writing about it, I thought I ought to give it a listen at home, partly to refresh my memory and partly to see what I'd missed.
I'm glad I did, because I had indeed missed a lot. The album is even better than I remembered musically, and the quality of the recording is superb. There's a lot of electronically-produced sound on it, and modern recording equipment and techniques seem to be able to make that stuff seem enormously present.
Partway through the first track, I jotted down an initial three-word impression: noisy melodic trip-hop. The first word, however, proved not very applicable to most of the album. The third...well, trip-hop, like all the subgenre terms in pop music, is pretty elastic, but this fits my idea, more or less, though it stretches the term pretty far. (Actually it seems to me that the implied connection with hip-hop is rather thin, but I'm pretty ignorant of that genre--you can read the Wikipedia article if you're interested in the background). It's not as dark as a lot of trip-hop. So I'll say bright melodic trip-hop.
The heart of the music is Laura Donnelly's warm, clear, even voice. I guess what I'm calling "even" is a matter of style more than equipment, but at any rate her singing has relatively little variation in intensity and volume, and that's not a criticism: it's very appealing, something of a warm-blanket effect.
As with trip-hop in general, there's a mysterious atmosphere, which is enhanced by the lyrics, also by Donnelly. They're vague, prose-y (no rhyme or regular meter), but suggestive and affecting. The first track, "Come Alone", begins with this:
Don't bring anyone inside who won't believe
The air pervades all things
Since we moved all of our things
I get confused
About which room I'm going into
That sort of bouncing back and forth between the dreamy and the down-to-earth is pretty characteristic of the songs.
YouTube has made it seem like too much work to try to describe music in words. Here's the lovely "Keep Me Safe," the album's closing track. Several others have equally fine string arrangements--and they're real strings, not synths, which I casually assumed when I half-heard them in the car.
I also have the band's first release, Clutter, which is as good as this one. I have not heard their second, The Proximity Effect, but I soon will, as I'm going to buy it from their Bandcamp store when I've finished this post. Turn All Memory is their third and apparently final: it was released in 2013 and as far as I can tell there has been nothing else. (The title, by the way, comes from a Margaret Atwood novel which I have not read.) Laura Donnelly has a solo album, Let Your Listening Be Wide, which I also plan to sample, at least.
P.S. Here's a better three-word description, from the band themselves: organic, emotional, electronic. From this interview.