Monday, November 10, 2008

Gregory and the Hawk - Moenie and Kitchi

FatCat Records
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"I want to do what pleases me, but I can't."

Meredith Godreau doesn't want it to be over. She wants to remember the good times, she wants to look at your presents and your letters and maybe make things right.

But she can't. She's a mess, really, she's all over the place. Wistful, depressed, valedictory, and mournful, she runs the emotional gamut. Alongside this exploration of pathos is a tour of the complete sonic spectrum as Gregory and the Hawk jump from soft to loud like never before, making Moenie and Kitchi her most versatile (and accomplished) release to date.

Listening to "Voice Like A Bell", I can't help but think of Camera Obscura's "Country Mile". It's a bit faster, but the vocal affectations and inflections are strikingly similar. This is a good thing - Let's Get Out Of This Country was the best thing to come out of Scotland since If You're Feeling Sinister. Most of the tracks are in this vein, superficially carefree and brimming with whimsy. Look a bit closer, though, and you'll find nothing less than heartbreak.

Not all of the songs fall into this category, however. Heard on "Stone Wall Stone Fence" is the same tense brooding that there was on Gregory and the Hawk's early demos. Luckily, many of the problems which beset these older numbers are thankfully absent this time around. Where before the music would sit on a few sinister minor chords and rest on its laurels, here there is a legitimate release, a percussive outburst that is cathartic and captivating. Instead of just being "there", the song actually feels like it's building towards an end, which is refreshing.

"Ghost" represents the most radical departure in Godreau's young career, as it is more amped up than anything previously released. The crowded atmosphere draws comparisons to Broken Social Scene, while the introspective and melancholic imagery makes one think of Stars, another Arts & Crafts outfit. Lyrically speaking, the symbolic use of a bee's sting for a kiss is a bit obvious, but it is valid nonetheless; when remembering your ex-lover, it's hard not to let the harsh truth intrude on the warmth and nostalgia.

There are still a few pitfalls, chief among them being the ease with which the listener loses focus. Moenie and Kitchi has a tendency to fade into the background - a real shame, because that means these achingly beautiful sounds might go unnoticed.

Meredith Godreau wants you back, but please, I'm begging you, don't take her. If she gets what she wants - if she does what pleases her - then what will she write about?

If she gets what she wants, then what will I listen to?

Key Tracks:
Oats We Sow
Stone Wall Stone Fence
Voice Like A Bell

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