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Emmy The Great & Tim Wheeler - This Is Christmas

A suitably interesting take on the Christmas album.

Music is generally a year round sorta thing. You create a break up record or a lovey-dovey song or an EP discussing some complex philosophical questions and expect anyone, at any time of year, to be able to stretch an ear forth and draw something from it. So, to create music purposefully targeted at a specific time of year is a strange and glorious prospect. Sadly, you don’t seem to get Easter songs and there are a minuscule number of Halloween themed records. But, once the calendar reads December, it’s out with the tinsel, up with the tree and on with the classic pantheon of festive tunes from the likes of Wham, Slade and Karen Carpenter. Or, for the more indie minded, Low and Sufjan Stevens. This year has already bought She & Him’s twee effort, landing somewhere between cosey and annoying. And, seeing as Christmas is about bringing people together, Emmy the Great and Tim Wheeler (of Ash) have snuggled up sonically to bring us ‘This Is Christmas’, a suitably interesting take on the Christmas album.

Wonderfully, the whole darn record reminds me of the Christmas period in it’s full extent. Moments of sheer, unbridled, childlike joy, confused, bewildered, stressful sections and a tone or two of disappointment, all accompanied by moments of melancholy and the occasional slapdash comedic oddity. It’s mostly a beautifully composed collection, beginning with a soaring string introduction that recalls classic Christmas tracks from the likes of Bing and Nat before dropping into a rumbling cover of ‘Marshmallow World’, a standard saccharine ode to snow. The two go on to avoid the pitfalls of the traditional holiday record by jumping to pop punk riffs, on ‘Christmas Day (Wish I Was Surfing)’, and creepy, jarring indie pop, on ‘Zombie Christmas’. The latter track is exactly what it sounds like, with Emmy sweetly crooning about a Day of the Dead state of affairs during the celebratory season, with such beautiful sentiment as ‘All the angels singing, Christmas time is here, oh man you better run, run, run”.

A combined, comedic wit pulls you through the tedious tracks, entrenched firmly in the midst of the album, such as the folksy trudge of ‘(Don’t Call Me) Mrs Christmas)’. ‘Jesus The Reindeer’ bursts into a short, sharp telling of the unknown (and unreal) hero of this special time of year. Referencing Friends, Sarah Palin and Pancho in a two minute festive song is worth a smile at least. The highlight of the album is the lead single, ‘Home For The Holidays’, a swirling emotional whirlwind that spurs up those morose thoughts during these wintry times, when visits home and solitary yearning summon up old regrets, missed opportunities and lost chances (SIGH). At the end of the jolly day, Emmy and Tim have been working on this for around a year, whilst snow bound in Sussex, and the end product is a display of the warmth, wit and wistful woe that squeeze themselves, thoroughly, into the merry, seasonal holidays.

Tags: Emmy The Great, Reviews, Album Reviews

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