Guillemots - Red

In all, Guillemots’ eccentric and unique, well-crafted pop is more than welcome, if listeners can get beyond the initial jarring of the myriad of genres and styles thrown in.

Label: Polydor

Rating: 7

Guillemots open second album, ‘Red’, with an almost aggravated attack of strings, however, within a few seconds the distorted double-bass of Aristazabal Hawkes informs us that this isn’t the same band from their debut. ‘Kriss Kross’ symbolises the variety on depth on offer here, where these strings and this distortion give way to epic soaring choruses. Everything’s thrown at the wall, and everything sticks. ‘Clarion’, meanwhile, tries to be too clever in a ‘world music’ style, using a pipa as lead instrument and coming across as being overproduced and a tad annoying, forming a weak point in the centre of the record.

Most noticeably on recent single ‘Get Over It’, Guillemots have opted for an odder, pop sound this time around. ‘Last Kiss’ is another example of this: a growling electro song with boy/girl vocals supplied by Arista and MC Lord Magrao. This gives a chance for the rhythm section, supplemented by drummer Greig Stewart - whose library of beats and sounds seems to have made the record possible - a chance to drive the music in a way they never could on the piano-dominated ‘Through The Windowpane’.

Those epic string sections are not forgotten entirely, however, and ‘Standing On The Last Star’ and album centrepiece ‘Cockateels’ feature them prominently and proudly. They also allow frontman and chief Guillemot, Fyfe Dangerfield, a chance to shine with a beautiful falsetto. Both songs reference the cheesy end of 1980s pop music and James Bond theme tunes without ever coming across in any way as naff.

Closing pair ‘Don’t Look Down’ and ‘Take Me Home’ have more ideas crammed in to them than most; the first held together by Dangerfield’s vocals, becoming an amazing piece of work where it could have been an utter mess. The beautifully introspective ‘Words’ is another side of the band that is always welcome.

In all, Guillemots’ eccentric and unique, well-crafted pop is more than welcome, if listeners can get beyond the initial jarring of the myriad of genres and styles thrown in.