Tender Trap - Ten Songs About Girls

Spoken-word sections? Tambourines? C86-style guitar twanging? Please.

Label: Fortuna Pop!

Rating: 5

Playing the twee-pop drinking game with ‘Ten Songs About Girls’ is certain to end with vomit spilt all over your favourite cardi. Song about trains? Right there on the opening track, with a refrain redundantly commenting on the rain at various railway stations across the British Isles. References to Postcard Records? ‘He wore his fringe just like Edwyn Collins’ is one of the best we’ve heard. Lyrics about making mixtapes? Spoken-word sections? Tambourines? A seeming asexuality? Use of words like ‘incredulous?’ The Mo Tucker drum beat? Child-like sadness? C86-style guitar twanging? Please.

Amelia Fletcher has been in this business for a while now. With the likes of Heavenly and Talulah Gosh she helped define what twee-pop - that most maligned of genres (except maybe afrobeat) - was and is. She can’t really be blamed for the fact that it hasn’t moved on from that point, nor for the fact that anyone who’s heard records by Belle & Sebastian, Beat Happening, or Hefner, will find nothing new on ‘Ten Songs About Girls’ (the title even sounds like a cliche), in the same way people never slagged off The Beatles for sounding just like all these over rock and roll bands. Still: this is an album that sounds like it could’ve been recorded at any point in the last thirty-odd years.

Maybe such criticism is unneeded. There’s worse things in the world than this Tender Trap record, it’s true, we’re no dummies. And it won’t even seem like criticism to some! It’s unlikely that the International Pop Underground care much that this record verges not a dot from the narrow template passed down from Calvin Johnson to Orange Juice to Stuart Murdoch to Tullycraft, because that’s exactly what they want. That’s why none of them liked ‘The Life Pursuit’. They still want to ‘revolt into childhood’.

With their winning smiles, their catchy tunes and words, they’re photogenic, you know: they don’t stand a chance.