First impressions: Gazelle Twin – The Entire City

A while back, I bought and enjoyed the album Ring by Glasser. There’s a lot of similarities between that and this, though Gazelle Twin’s brittle electronica is colder and less textured. There’s a similar approach to songwriting, but the vocals aren’t layered up in the same way. So it’s familiar enough to immediately appeal to Glasser fans but different enough to stay interesting.

Like Glasser, Gazelle Twin is one woman – in this case, Elizabeth Walling from Brighton. Her voice quivers over each pared down mix of bleeps and percussion as if Depeche Mode and Fad Gadget were being haunted by someone from Delerium. There have been the inevitable Bjork comparisons, but to be honest I’ve found Bjork hard to warm to in recent years, her songs accomplished but not engaging. This has no such affliction; it’s all perfectly hummable. 

The Entire City is named after a Max Ernst painting and sung by a girl who likes to dress in costumes. The whole thing is bleak and unsettling – like a musical accompaniment to an Alex Proyas film. Something like Dark City.

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There’s a lot of music like this at the moment, with Austra and Fever Ray swelling the ranks of women-singing-gothy-dance-pop, but The Entire City looms above them through the robustness of the material. Music like this lives or dies by the quality of the songwriting, and many of these tracks are single-worthy – except, oddly, Changelings, which actually was a single.

It’s not perfect, and has its weak spots (such as Nest) where it becomes a little dull and repetitive – moments that better quality control would have excised leaving a shorter, sleeker album. Still, songs like Men Like Gods and I Am Shell I Am Bone for two add up to a very compelling debut.

One of the best albums of 2011, and that was a vintage year.

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