Guillemots – Through The Windowpane (2006): Review

“Through The Windowpane” was one of the surprise nominations for the 2006 Mercury Music Prize. It didn’t win, but when the dust had settled the critics and fans had enjoyed the opportunity to re-evaluate this English/Brazilian 4 piece debut with a renewed praise for experimental Indie/Pop at its very finest. Guillemots are the brainchild of singer songwriter and keyboardist Fyfe Dangerfield; a Birmingham native who cites his influences as British songbirds (Blackbirds, Song Thrushes etc) and Bjork. After relocating to London, Dangerfield assembled the group made up of Greig Stewart (Drums), Aristazabal Hawkes (Double Bass, Vocals) and MC Lord Magrao (Guitars, Vibes) and released the well received “I Saw Such Things In My Sleep” EP which contained the song “Made Up Love Song #43” which would be re-released as an album single. It’s a pop song of wild eccentricity, sweet and refreshing and wholly original. The remainder of the album follows a similar oddball path, introducing a host of wonders, a gem of universal charms.

The zest of unpredictability begins on the sweeping orchestral opener “Little Bear” and continues through to Samba rhythms of the epic closer “Sao Paulo”. Every creation is lovingly foretold using a variety of soundscapes from ancient Casio Keyboards, Colliery Brass bands, orchestras and Guitars played with a drill. Bizarre one might say, and yet every weird instrument seems to fall in line and stick lovingly to Dangerfield’s dynamic songs and melodies. Ably assisted by his cohorts (particularly Hawkes’ Double bass which adds a laconic subtle depth), they pursue sharply unexpected turns to emphasize their musical skill which work every time. One could pick out anything as a stand out, but particularly listen out for “Trains To Brazil”, fun un-contrived pop with a snaeky Motown rhythm, the atmospherically rich “We’re Here”, and the celebratory “Annie, Let’s Not Wait”. The overall sound is like nothing else, top song writing supported by ingenious instrumentation and produced with an affectionate attention to detail you’ll rarely hear on any album from the past few years.

“Through The Windowpane” is a phenomenally unique culmination of Fyfe Dangerfield’s undeniable song writing talent, a prized possession and the best LP I heard in 2006.

9/10

1 Little Bear 4:49
2 Made Up Love Song #43 3:41
3 Trains to Brazil 4:02
4 Redwings [feat. Mara Carlyle] 6:02
5 Come Away With Me 3:10
6 Through the Window Pane 3:39
7 If the World Ends 6:20
8 We’re Here 5:14
9 Blue Would Still Be Blue 5:15
10 Annie, Let’s Not Wait 4:44
11 And If All… 1:19
12 São Paulo 11:42

Made Up Love Song #43

We’re Here

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