Live Review

Rose Elinor Dougall, Camden Barfly

These songs suit Rose, suit that glorious voice, and suit us too. Here’s to growing up, eh?

I fix myself a steely glare in the mirror. It’s pep-talk time. C’mon man, you’ve got a review to write and you must not cheapen it, must not sully it with the obvious. Have some pride, don’t let yourself down. Move on. Let it go. Don’t. Mention. The. Pipettes. Yes, yes, you loved them to bits, yes you saw them countless times and, yes, it was Rosay’s songs that set them apart. The effervescent smarts of Judy that so totally summed up their very essence, and the sprawling, swirling majesty of Magician Man which made it crystal clear that they never needed to be restricted by their aesthetic…

Or, maybe they were, maybe there was nowhere else to go. Maybe that’s why we’re here now and the person on the stage, sneaking coy glances from under her fringe to double check the Barfly crowd is feeling this, is not Rosay. Instead we’re watching Rose Elinor Dougall whose all dressed in black, with not a polka dot in sight. If you’ve read reviews of the singles and album (and, seriously, how good is Without Why? Listened to it once, knew it was great but couldn’t quite tell when it would work, what mood it would suit, what time of day it would make sense, and then realised I’d listened to barely anything else for a fortnight) you’d think this was an utterly different person and, ok, the references are not as obvious; Shangri-Las might have been replaced by Penguin Cafe Orchestra* but, to be honest, the leap is not that huge. It’s still the same nervous laugh whenever any observation is greeted with typically Barfly-esque near silence and the handclaps that spell out the rhythm to Another Version of Pop Song are every bit as sweetly addictive (I would join in, I really would but clapping in time + me = not pretty) as anything that Rosay and Co ever put their synchronised mitts to. There’s still ample choruses to swoon over, to lose yourself in and the innate pop sensibilities are rightly and healthily smiling back at us. Live too, the songs are sharper with a buzzy immediacy that’s impossible to resist. Essentially too, we’re still dealing with the same kinda themes here that have always made for the greatest records; the perpetual confusion and delight of, you know love’n’stuff. It’s just, well, and this isn’t a bad thing or a dull thing, it’s definitely all good, but it’s just more grown up. And that has to happen right?

Those fizzy, giddy, alcopop thrills and the inevitable vicious, unforgiving hangovers that the strongest painkillers can’t shift? Eventually they give way to red wine wooziness and the exalted exhaustion of languid Sunday inertia. A hangover that can be luxuriated in and fixed with strong cheese. Yeah, you still have fun’n’kicks in getting there, it just happens in different ways, and you feel so much better for it afterwards.

And that’s what seems to have happened with Rose. No experiences have been forgotten, they just add up to something more complete and satisfying. When you’ve been through both, you understand more. You want more for yourself, want better for yourself. You trust yourself more, you’ve faith in the things you deserve. Things might be more complicated, but they’re so much more rewarding. And the increased depth of feeling here, the sense of confidence (maybe not at knowing everything, but at knowing you can’t know everything), the evident self-belief; it’s all beautifully articulated in these songs and so obvious from the poise and assurance on stage. These songs suit Rose, suit that glorious voice, and suit us too. Here’s to growing up, eh?

And, sure, ok, I mentioned The Pipettes, I let myself down, but I had to, they’re part of the story, they set the scene and establish the characters. But no more, there’s no need, time to turn the page for a whole new chapter.

*yeah BBC album review person, I can check her MySpace too. Honestly? Penguin who now?

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