Foreign Slippers – Farewell to the Old Ghosts
It was looking like a usual Friday night for me: a few beers, bit of writing and then a Twitter party which inevitably leads to a Bruce Springsteen session… and then this album dropped into my email inbox. Strange forces were at play (or simply the fact that Gareth knew how much I admired Cate Le Bon!) and I agreed to review this, the new album by Foreign Slippers. Foreign to me, within a few listens this album had creeped up on me, giving me a big sloppy hug and – get this – even had me singing along like a giddy school girl!
Led by the multitalented Gabi Froden, Foreign Slippers are a charming prospect from Sweden. There must be something in the air in that country as melody seems to be bred into the denizens and melody is what this album is full of. From start to finish it is like being wrapped in a blanket of butterflies, hugged and then set free. A strange analogy indeed, but very appropriate!
Kicking off with ‘It All Starts No’w, Gabi and co. set out their stall with an exhortation of delight leading to a chorus begging you to “Shoot the lights out!”. Starting in a minor key melody, it builds into an expansive yet intimate soundscape which is both mainstream pop and new psychedelic folk. This is a theme throughout the album, which uses lyrics of love and loss and brings them together in a mix of music which uses joy and desolation as a grounding.
I mentioned the knack of the Swedish in turning out a good pop song and this may be the only time that ABBA get a mention on Echoes and Dust. Much as they could churn out a tremendous pop song, they also had the ability to turn it on its head and approach things from a different angle. Foreign Slippers do this throughout the album and none more so than on ‘Two People in You’ where the lyrics are lovelorn and lost whilst the music leads to a melodic climax of “take me home”. Following this is possibly the most joyous song I have heard since the days of ABBA. ‘Avalanche’ can only be described as pure joy and it is this song that had me singing like… well, you read it earlier.
‘Island’ follows, and this shows a much more intimate side of Foreign Slippers with a strange mix of lo-fi leanings but filled with an expansive production. Just listen to the scratching of the hand across the strings as the chords change to revel in an intimate sound which is both hushed and reverent whilst still reaching for the stars. If anything, this song provides the key to Foreign Slippers as you can almost see the music developing before you. One can imagine sitting in the studio as Gabi finds her feet with the song.
I have tried to look for something critical to say about this album but it keeps short-footing me at every move. A few songs pass you by but then something will startle you out of approaching boredom as a left turn takes the song into new territory. Lyrically it is faultless, which you can well imagine from someone who writes children’s stories. Nursery rhyme melodies and dark undercurrents both disarm and put you on your guard much as Cate Le Bon does with the CYRK album. Maybe I could say that sometimes the innocence becomes overbearing, but then, why would I have played the album again and again on that Friday night? Yes, in a year of great music, yet another classic.
Farewell to the Old Ghosts is released on June 25th via Adventures in Gramophone.
Posted by Martyn Coppack
Tags: 2012, album, farewell to the old ghosts, foreign slippers, Martyn Coppack, Review