Phildel – The Disappearance of the Girl

3 Apr
Phildel Disappearance of the Girl

Nice hat

Pop loves the female voice and so do I. Yet so many modern ladies of pop, even at its outer fringes, are just so dull, dull, dull. Powerful pipes but no feeling.

I tend to binge on female vocalists (not like that, ahem) and my latest addiction is Phildel and her debut The Disappearance of the Girl.

Yes, there are clear nods to Kate Bush (Beside You, whose gorgeous piano lines evoke Yann Tiersen) and Bat for Lashes at her most spectral (Union Stone).

Yes, there will be some who dismiss Phildel due to these superficial similarities and the radio-friendly production.

Not only are those irredeemable fucknuts just plain wrong but that’s to miss the subtleties in this quite lovely album.

There’s the utterly lethal voice that first mesmerises then fatally strikes you in the heart without warning.

There’s the faint but entrancing influence of her Chinese heritage that quietly makes itself felt most in the timbre of the string parts.

There’s an emotional resonance that syrupy balladeers like Adele could barely hope to manufacture.

Need I go on? Oh alright then. How about an oblique vocal reference to Mattafix in title track that neatly illustrates her arresting cadence (maybe that one’s just me).

Strings and vocals often hit that peculiar resonance that tugs at my heart and makes it vibrate and ache with melancholy, but particularly in the title track.

It’s a stylistically varied album yet some of the potential missteps turn out to be triumphs. Storm Song sounds awful on paper but is somehow perfect. The coffee table beats feel cookie-cutter but that voice. That voice. It swoops, soars and whispers yet avoids the curse of the empty vocal acrobatics of the bland belting of rent-a-diva.

Holes in Your Coffin is the most upbeat and dancey song and a great example of the contrast between form and content that abounds on this album. The rompiness could have been jarring but Phildel channels her inner Annie Lennox with very catchy results. Also, totally fucking awesome title for a pop song, no?

Storm Song aside, the string- and piano-laden beats do just enough. It’s hardly popstep (thank fuck) or glitchtronica but let’s say it’s stracciatella rather than plain vanilla.

Not everything works – I’m not a fan at all of the American hymnal Funeral Bell – but I get the feeling The Disappearance of the Girl is likely to give me a longer buzz than some of my past bingees (I’m looking at you Lana). So a few cheeky pills then rather than a dirty rock*

* Monkey Defies Gravity does not condone drug use**

** We do really***

*** Or do we? Or do we? Kids, if you are going to do drugs, make sure you share them with your parents.

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2 Responses to “Phildel – The Disappearance of the Girl”

  1. hhbrady April 4, 2013 at 11:38 pm #

    I’m getting a Tori Amos (and so Kate Bush)-meets-Lana DR… a “European” Lana, in a way… sounds like some of the songs from a Scottish pop act Texas, too. I actually like the use of the vibes in the background (and I normally hate vibes in jazz). Interesting.

    • Kuz April 12, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

      Not sure I hear any Texas but its been years since I listened. Interesting you see her as a Euro Lana. It’s there in the ache and the melancholy perhaps but Phildel seems less of a one trick pony (but what a trick) and not so obsessed with seedy sex, bad girls/boys and getting fucked up.

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