Before I Eat My Eyes & Ears - The Setting Son (Bad Afro)
Bubblegum gets a bad rap. The name infers something sweet and insubstantial that loses its taste after a short time and gets spat out. If you agree, adjust your biases, wind your body clock back to 1966 and lap up The Setting Son, a fully-realised retro treasure from Denmark.
So here's the goss: The Setting Son started as a studio project for shy bedroom musician Sebastian T.W. Kristansen, whose tapes fell into the hands of Lorenzo Woodrose (Baby Woodrose) and sparked the interest of Bad Afro Records. Things got serious from there. This is The Setting Son's third album and best to date. Like the best '60s-inspired garage-pop, it's sunny and sad, swept up in bathos and pathos with a psychedelic twist.
At the heart of "Before I Eat…" are the ethereal vocals of Emma Acs and Kristansen's strong songs. Acs has a voice that, although limited in range, suits these tracks to a tee, and Kristanesen swathes it in 12-string melodies, clever duets, deep keyboard washes and dynamic arrangements. The five players backing Acs are multi-skilled and tighter than a hippie's household budget.
Any thoughts that The Setting Son with hired guns (as was the case on the debut album) have long been swept away. If anything, Kristansen has taken a vocal back seat and pushed Acs right up front. The songs are more diverse and more pop than trippy. "Best of Me" (a Kristansen-Acs duet) might be the best summer song to come out of Copenhagen since…someone help me out here…
Speaking of songs, "Above The Rest" stands, er, above the rest, with a killer chorus and cool-as-shit keys and shakers. "Are You The One" borrows a guitar phrase from The Electric Prunes while "All That Candy" bounces off a groove like one enormous sugar hit, with tighly-meshed vocals and a reeling keyboard that yields to a snappy guitar break. The lyrics are a weak point but when the song's this good, who cares? "Death Breath" follows and is so light it almost flies into the ether. The tougher "Butterface" (jangle-flecked riffs with a touch of Morricone) brings things nicely back on track.
Great record but I can't help wondering why it had that artwork slapped on the front.