Funeral Suits - Lily Of The Valley

This debut is a delight, and Funeral Suits clearly have potential in the bucket-loads.

Funeral Suits follow along in a procession of bands that purvey seductive, mysterious and slightly dangerous sounding pop music. Once upon a time, a flavour of the insane meant getting carted off to the territory occupied by maverick visionaries, with no further attention paid. On the ominously named ‘Lily Of The Valley’ - with all its symbolic associations with death and mournin— the listener happily gobbles it up for breakfast lunch and tea. This is in part due to the band’s impressive command of their craft, and also the album’s place in the almost foolproof hands of Stephen Street, who produced Blur’s Parklife and Morrissey’s Viva Hate (let’s not mention the Brother album though..). “Teach me how to feel and how to scream and recreate,” yowls singer Brian James against a backdrop of twinkling synth, and a haunting choral interlude in ‘Colour Fade’; and this is fast becoming an album of pop-friendly songwriting with an intriguingly dark undertone.

It is easy to underestimate the skill involved in creating something looming and life-sized out of the bare bones of melody, and ‘Hands Down By Your Side’ is the ideal showcase. Clocking in at 5 minutes long, it starts life with gently meandering guitar lines and wordless melodies, which slowly build in urgency and momentum. By the end the song becomes an intense cacophony of thrashing and rolling snare drums. ‘We Only Attack Ourselves’ is built up from the scarce foundations of an acoustic guitar and a violin – not that you even notice this. Funeral Suits have more clever tricks up their sleeves to make this far more than just an acoustic ditty. In such stripped back setting, the dulled biting between the plucked harmonies and the disturbing lullaby of “Don’t be afraid of the smoke in our grenade/ It will sting your eyes” becomes all-absorbing.

Funeral Suits have gifted us with a rough diamond. ‘Lily Of The Valley’ has room for improvement – ‘Adventures Misadventures’, for example, seems a disappointing, somewhat emotionless track when stood up next to the carefully constructed intensity elsewhere. There are other moments that lack the artfulness of the strongest tracks – but a perfectly finished gemstone would almost be too robotic. ‘Lily Of The Valley’ has soul, and despite all the declarations that “I am a machine” this is very human. This debut is a delight, and Funeral Suits clearly have potential in the bucket-loads.

Tags: Funeral Suits, Reviews, Album Reviews

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