England, Center of the World
More Rieff (2)

Club 8 (self-titled)

This is my latest find from the music I acquired years ago and never really listened to. The name led me to expect, well, club music. I'm not sure what I mean by that--something in the general direction of electronic dance music, I guess, with heavy beats and probably no great endowment of melody and lyrical depth; maybe something in the trip-hop line, but less interesting. And at first I thought that's what I was going to hear: the first thirty seconds are so like Portishead as to seem a copy or even a quotation. The whole song, "Love In December," could be described as a less dramatic, less quirky, less elaborate, and brighter Portishead-sort-of-thing.

But overall it's something different. The next song has a breezy, vaguely 60s-ish vibe, and the album as a whole is what I think of, unpejoratively, as a girl album: pretty, dreamy, subdued, reflective, introspective, wistful, with lyrics mostly about love, lost or found or unhappy. The tunes are memorable--I can't listen to it without having one song playing in my head for a while afterward, and it's not always the same one. The trip-hop instrumental atmosphere returns on "Say A Prayer," but for the most part the sound is more conventional. And that, again, is not a pejorative, because the straightforward unobtrusive arrangements are perfect for the material. It occurs to me as I write this to compare the album to some of The Innocence Mission's work, though the sensibility is very different. 

It's a brief album, only thirty-one minutes, and there's not a wasted moment on it, not a second that isn't enjoyable. I do wish they had written more of the 51-second "London."

Here's "Hope For Winter," a representative track:

The band is/are a duo from Sweden. This album, their third, came out in 2001, and they have continued to put out albums regularly since then, for a total of ten, and eight of them have four-star reviews from AllMusic. The singer, who I assume is also the main lyricist, at least, if not the songwriter, is no longer a girl. I'll be interested in hearing how they've developed. 


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In following trip-hop rabbit trails over the years I've discovered quite a few bands that have this sort of sound. Many of them are European -- they seem to have a knack for this type of thing. A group called Ivy comes to mind, who I think may have been French. Also the Belgian group Hooverphonic, whose first couple albums were trip-hop oriented but after that went in more of a pop direction. Their first album, 'New Stereophonic Sound Spectacular,' is an all-time favorite of mine.

I recently discovered a duo from Norway called "Sally Shapiro" that do music a lot like this but with more of a dance/disco beat. Very melodic, with the same sort of light vocals, but more dance-oriented.

I have that Hooverphonic album and like it a lot.

I thought the name Ivy rung a bell and found that I have a single track by them on a Nettwerk sampler. It's good. Heavier beats and less of a sweet "girl" quality than Club 8.

I have a burned copy of their CD 'Apartment Life,' and although I haven't listened to it in a while, I remember that it opens with a "heavier" song, while the rest of it is mostly laid back.

Wikipedia says that they were American with a French singer.

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