Say Lou Lou (Ft. Chet Faker)
Fool of Me
Columbia Records newbies Miranda and Elektra Kilbey, straddle Stockholm and Los Angeles. The Scandinavian-Antipodean twin sisters fuse ’70s majesty and style together, with ’90s ‘heroin-chic’, alacrity and beauty: creating a glorious and astral sound.
Fool of Me is available at:
The E.P. Julian is available at:
THERE are a number of different themes that are on my mind today…
in light of some personal ambition. Not to blow any trumpets; or advertise myself; but I have been formulating- and adding to- a (hopefully) soon-to-be music website. Recently I have been looking back fondly at music (rather than forward); remembering and reminiscing about great past moments (instead of anticipating future potential). I have felt that there is a bit of a stagnation and slowing-down at the moment (in the current scene). I am unsure as to the ‘why’ behind the phenomenon- it could be due to overcrowding in the market; or else a fallow period (that will soon be over). In my reviews- over the last few months or so- I have postulated various themes and concerns: including homogenised sounds; an over-abundance of Indie bands; lack of international awareness in the U.K. I will address all of these (once more; as well as the idea of my website), as well as nobly ease into introducing Say Lou Lou. In this country (as well as some parts of Europe), we are in the grip of a homogenisation. Too many different areas of the country are compartmentalised- there is little cross-pollination and collaborative spirit- and there is a split of quality and sound (depending on which part of the U.K. you focus towards); both in terms of a north/south divide, but also a split across certain counties. For regular subscribers, my discourse may seem all-too-familiar (I apologise, but it is making a point); I feel that there are some rather alarming trends. Within the U.K. there is still a tendency towards proffering and emphasising all-male guitar bands: most of these groups tend to offer few surprises. Within the northern climbs of England, a proliferation of Indie bands seems to be ‘the norm’: by the week there seems to be half a dozen new examples; each touting modest accomplishments. Diverse parts of the nation, such as Scotland and Yorkshire are being largely ignored: yet it is areas such as these which are bringing about a resurgence. Away from the guitar band-heavy current music scene; if one fancies variation and fascination options tend to be limited- where do you go to experience something different? Within Scotland, a great deal of sunshine pop; alt-rock and punk waves are making themselves know: heavier and edgier than the Indie core; offering fond evocations of the ’70s masters. Down into Yorkshire, doo-wop and swing movements are occurring; reminiscent of the likes of Caro Emerald- there are a lot of similarities to be heard. It is seen as counterintuitive and unusual to present new music which is, by and large, ‘old-fashioned’ and ‘retrospective’. I have encountered some genuinely fascinating artists (solo usually) whom are reinterpreting and reintroducing the heady sways and sensations from the swing and doo-wop artists of the ’30s and ’40s such as The Andrews Sisters. In 2013 it may seem like a bold and unusual move (making new music that is 70 years old); however, looking back is often the way to move forward. It is great that there are a rush of bands coming through: each hungry and determined to make an impression. My concerns arise when I consider how much diversity there is between these (multitudinous) bands. Manchester, Liverpool and large swathes of the North West of England are culpable of encouraging an Indie-centric scene- away from these parts there is a bit more mobility. London has been quiet for a long while; yet I know (from recent reviews) that some terrific rock bands; as well as punk and Indie-Pop examples ripe for discovery- with songs and sounds that are worthy of mass future appeal. In the early part of the ’00s there was still a lot of pioneering and prosperous music being made; yet there has been a significant slowing and quality degradation thereafter- especially over the last 10-or-so years. My abiding point is that there is a jam-packed market (which can be good and potential-filled), yet there are few uniquely different sounds to be heard- both in the band and solo markets. We in the U.K. have always been at the forefront of great music: in fact decades such as the ’60s and the ’90s were largely dictated by British wonders. As we are in a bit of a quagmire at present, options and assistances need to be considered: so what is the logical resolution? Over the past few weeks I have summarised and profiled some exceptional international talent; many of whom emanate from the U.S. Covering power pop and punk; folk tinges and synthesised R&B, it seems that the Americans are at the forefront of a diversified and experimental scene. Perhaps their new music scene is not quite as ‘bustling’ as ours here- although one must assume that we are on a level par in this respect. I just feel that the U.S. have a greater consideration of diversification and freshness; whereas in the U.K. new bands and sounds are dictated and enforced by a combination of market trends; copycatting and playing it (a little too) safe. What I have noticed (with regards to the most prosperous nations) is that the likes of Northern Europe are making the boldest moves. Norwegian and Danish solo troubadours have filled my ears with sweet and mature melodies; Finnish electronica has spiked and pumped my blood; and- perhaps most impressively- the Swedish newbies are capturing the most ground. Recently I reviewed NoNoNo and their exceptional single Pumpin Blood: a myriad wonder filled with delirious electronic moods and a catchy-as-hell melody (that sticks in your brain for days). Disco acts and electro-pop seems to be a big market; they are genres that are impressing critics and music-lovers alike. Away from Northern Europe, Australian rock and Indie bands have also been making huge footsteps; invoking some affluent ’90s movements, as well as infusing their concoctions with fresh-faced beauty. If we in the U.K. took notes from these acts (and nations); encouraged new talent to stray away from the familiar, and broaden their palette, then the state of new music (as well as the state of future music), will be vastly improved. My main thesis is this: we need more range and fascination. The four or five-piece male band is appealing to a degree; in the same way that the soft-voiced female solo artist is: the way to go forward and make huge impressions is to diversify the melting pot. For every home-grown exception like The Staves; there is a proliferation and mass of Arctic Monkey-esque bands- this is something that we need to get out of. My inspiration for designing a (music) website- as well as trying to encourage diversity and individuality- was to introduce music-lovers and new musicians to the wonders of the past; as well as make them aware of fascinations of the modern-day. I think this is part of the big problem: too few remember and appreciate the majesties of past years; and not enough are conscious of terrific foreign music. When- and indeed, if- my site is a reality; this is going to be a small part of its overall intention: providing a wealth of past music; linking it to the everyday music listener/band; as well as promoting international talent and artists- as well as new home-grown acts.
Say Lou Lou are a duo whom I have recently become aware of. I have been stating (or moaning) that it is so difficult to hear about great foreign music- most music websites and newspapers are solely interested in the U.K. market. Miranda and Elektra Kilbey are sisters- twins in fact- and have Scandinavian and Antipodean heritages. On their Twitter page they claim Stockholm and Sydney as their home town(s): two more different places you could not imagine. The girls have the fascination and devotion from Sweden- they were featured in People Magazine there recently- and have earned a lot of love and support from Australia. As much as I have been in awe of some sharp and edgy Australian bands; as well as some terrific solo talent (Matt Corby etc.); I have been enthralled by Swedish sounds. Our duo love and fight as sisters (as is natural); yet have an inherent and natural close bond that can be heard in their music. It is said that twins have a sort of telepathy and psychic bond (psychics don’t exist; it is more an intuition): they are able to sense when there is trouble with their twin; able to predict their mood and mind-set, as well as bond with the other with a natural grace and passion. Considering the shared time in utero– as well as the close association they have during childhood- it seems only fitting that twin sisters whom decide to make music together will have a Sympatico: both fractious but above all, mesmeric. One thing that annoys me about twins (about the parents; not the twins themselves) is that parents protest at just how different they are- they are of course; they are different humans that share a birth date. The problem is that when these parents- whom go on about how unique they are- begin dressing them in the same clothing- the exact same- and cut their hair the same- again exactly alike. This disturbs me somewhat, as these parents are consciously making the twins look alike: both a baffling attitude and a bit of a cruel insistence, as those children will have a harder time of things. I mention this, as many may have preconceived notions of what twin sister musicians would look like: identical band uniforms; a similarly-uniform appearance and identical attitudes. One of the most alarming things about Say Lou Lou is that they are distinctly unique women- as well as having a close and loving bond. Both are incredible beautiful and stunning (every inch the modern idol); and will inspire young women as much as they will, um… overwhelm the young male (sans prurient fascinations). The continent-straddling sisters were born in June of 1991 (a month and year that saw a glorious influx of stunning music); and these 22-year-old stars are also spending a great deal of time in L.A.- as well as the likes of Sweden and Sydney. I have read a few interviews that the girls have given, but am not too familiar with their upbringing (where the Australian and Scandinavian roots emanate from); I just know that the sisters have been based predominantly in Sweden (as well as L.A.). Whereas U.K. female duos (or sister acts) would probably be predictably folk-influenced or unadventurous; the vast maturity and diversity that the two offer up separates them from the rest of the scene. The girls have been to London recently- highlighting at the rather audacious lack of summer weather- and will have a natural home here (should they ever decide to relocate). In a summer here that is going to be defined by some rather un-summery sounds; their unique brand of sound is going to enliven and reignite the market here: something that is desperately needed. The girls have spent most of 2013 readying their new E.P., Julian. The sisters claim that they wanted to marry the glamour ’70s Berlin, as well as the ‘heroin-chic’ of the 1990s. The numbers of the E.P. display a stunning maturity; tied together with pop melodies, yearnings of beauty and alluring codas. There are two original tracks on the E.P. (Julian and Fool of Me); yet there are four different remixes of their first single, Julian. On iTunes, the E.P. have garnered unanimous acclaim: commentators highlight the E.P.’s dreaminess, potency and consistent quality and fascination. The drop dead gorgeous twins have made this possible by their keen and admirable passion for music- especially sensations of the past. Julian has been inspired by everything from cult German films (Christiane F [Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo]- which was set in the late ’70s- was one key plot-point). In fact; style is a facet that is crucial for the duo. As well as German cult classics; they are inspired by the likes of David Bowie and Kate Bush (kookiness and beauty aplenty)- the glamour and decadent polemics of the ’70s is something that fascinated them (It is the combination of styles and artists of the ’70s and ’90s that can be heard in the contours of the music). The girls are enamoured by the likes of T-Rex, Prince and Tim Buckley: artists whom portrayed a great deal of sensuality and sexiness. In addition to the ’70s masters (Dolly Parton and Fleetwood Mac count as idols); the sisters adore the sounds of the ’90s: Nick Cave, P.J. Harvey and Jeff Buckley are particular favourites. Combined with a love of ’70s and ’90s music, comes a passion for the great movies of the era; from Boogie Nights and The Runaways (the ’70s); through to Pulp Fiction and Stealing Beauty (the ’90s). Everything I have read about them makes me fall in love with them: their passion for incredible (and near-forgotten) music; an eye for style, passion, fashion and potency; as well as a masterful ear for melody and musicianship. As much as their heart-melting looks will drop men to their knees; it is their music and ambition that will keep them there- for women, their relatability and inspirational nature will win their hearts and minds. I am glad to have encountered Say Lou Lou and their E.P.’s proffering: one wonders when a day will arrive, that means artists such as them will be better promoted by the media? As much as the murk and dredge of Indie-lite shadings have dulled my senses; my heart, brain (and loins) have been energised by spectacular acts such as Say Lou Lou. Recently, the E.P.’s title track (and lead-off single) have been sending the Internet (and musical clans) atwitter: glowing and love-filled reviews have summarised and distilled the track’s essence and wonder. It has left critics smiling and stunned; and is a tantalising taste of what the E.P. has to offer (making Fool of Me all the more intrigue as well). The girls’ social media pages, as well as official website (http://www.sayloulou.com/) attest to their adventures and goings-on (since the release of the E.P.): trips to L.A. (or La La Land); prestigious interviews; sojourns in London (and the U.K).; as well as a natural residency within Sweden. They have been promoting and signposting their E.P.’s potency far and wide: wanting as many people as possible to absorb its messages and nuances- as well as gain them as many new fans as possible. Between the 15,000+ Facebook ‘Likes’; the-almost 3,000 Twitter ‘Followers’- as well as a mass of international fans- the sisters have a lot of support (off of the back of their current music). I can guarantee that the future will be rosy and busy for the girls as we edge slowly towards 2014. The positive (and almost enraptured) response to Julian (E.P.) has meant that another E.P./debut L.P. will be much-demanded; as well as a lot of tour dates (I would love to catch them in London for sure!). On the evidence of Fool of Me, it is not hard to see why the twins have garnered so much effusive praise: it is a song that sets out their stall; interlinks their multi-genre and bi-decade loves- melting them into a heady and flavoursome boiling pot.
Before I get down to the song itself; it is worth noting (and only right) that the track features Chet Faker. Our Australian-born collaborator is a renowned electronica artist, whom has been invigorating his native land with his blends of future beat and down-tempo soulfulness: something that is apparent in his tones and stylings (as well as abundant in his 2012 Thinking in Textures L.P.). Given that Say Lou Lou built such a reputation from their own voices and input, it was interesting to see how Faker’s unique influence would fit within the context of Fool of Me. The opening seconds of the track promote and tease a slow build of intrigue and potential. Echoed vocal interjection is replaced with a clattering and eerie electronic/percussive line. In the initial movements, I found some evocations of ’90s pioneers such as Cocteau Twins and Air: their comparative fascination and influential edges nestle within the dislocated and ghostly build-up. With an electronic and scratchy percussive duet-that produces a metronomic tic and a pulsing heartbeat- intrigue and atmosphere and elicited and expanded. Strangely- or maybe unexpectedly- there is some of Massive Attack’s bold majesty (think of their Mezzanine-era high)- a feint whisper of Teardrop‘s scuffling moodiness can be detected. Perhaps there is a lighter and less trip hop/experimental hip hop-heavy edge to the sapling moves; but one can hear a relatable quality and resonance. At the same time, native Swedish electronica and dance lingers in the heady layers; as does late-’90s/early-’00s U.K. dance and electronic music. All of this together creates a intro. chocked with potentiality and intrigue: bursting with nervy energy, potent blood flow and romantic sway. Like modern idols such as Jessie Ware, a subtle and well-considered intro. announces a hefty weight of expectation and excitement- before a single word has been sung. Fool of Me‘s adolescent moments have vinyl scratches and crackle; a myriad of cracks and sparkle (and percussive punctuation), which relaxes and stimulates the mind all at once: making you wonder quite what is coming next. When the vocal arrives into the fold, it is seductive and smooth: possessing breathy sexiness as well as strong and authoritative urgency. It is claimed that: “You never cried/I’d say love let me wet your eyes”; suggesting that either a break-up or emotional upheaval has occurred. It is unsure whether the anonymous paramour is lachrymose due to upheaval and a break-up; or because of a transcendent and tender moment: the tender and soft vocals from the sisters suggest that the latter is pertinent (although apologies if I have misread that). Each word (and line) is smokily and langurouslesly deployed: summoning up the maximum amount of emotion and reciprocation, as well as grabbing onto your attention. The girls will forgive me (I hope) for drawing some comparisons, but I could detect some influence from Mazzy Star, Liz Fraser (of Cocteau Twins)- and even Jeff Buckley. It is the way in which the aforementioned idols portray a tender and ethereal headiness; that one can link with Miranda and Elektra’s soothing tones. As an atmospheric and crackling sonic background supports the words, our heroines claim that “The soul won’t burn”; mesmerically drawing you into their thoughts and intentions as a startling realisation is unveiled: “If you don’t hurt inside/You feel no pain”. I am always keen and curious to know what inspires a song (and its lyrics); so was entrenched and interested by the early thoughts. Whether the song focuses on the vicissitudes of a current relationship; the retrospective analysis of a failed romance, or a semi-autobiographical tristesse on a the nature of love, I am unsure: yet from what I gleaned from the potency of the words and voice; I would say that there is personal relevance to the narrative- whether it is Elektra or Miranda’s woe (or a shared pain). As your mind gets caught up in the meanings and visuals (the lyrics suggest), the girls ease and quell any anxiety. Their Siren-esuque and harmonious vocal twines (displaying some slight edges of Bedtime Stories-era Madonna) hide- as well as add weight to- hidden and dark emotional pains. Plenty of hurt, tears and heartache strikes in the hearts of our heroines; it is a motif that inspires words such as: “I’ll top you off with a taste that I’ve not forgot”. The chorus comes into view; bursting like a nebula- summoned in with a vocal rush. The shared voices having tastes of early-’90s Madonna; mid-career Kate Bush, as well as Gran Turismo-esque The Cardigans (the softer edges of…). In fact the Nina Persson-helmed Swedish quintet came to mind in the verses too; yet that revocation is galvanised in the chrous’s dreamy and impassioned rush. I have always adored Persson’s seductive and engaging voice; the band’s huge talent (as well as their inspired mass appeal); and our stunning duo have tutored and similar positives- but have a stark originality to their vocal tones, I have to add. The “You made a fool of me” coda is elongated; gorgeously tempted; breathed with a delicious tenderness. In the same way as Jeff Buckley’s anthem Last Goodbye told of the sadness of a break-up (from our hero’s regretful perspective); the chorus almost suggests the side of Buckley’s lover: maybe it’s just me, but I get that feeling. Playing the role of the hound dog bowser; Faker is the lover-in-disgrace; arriving into the song with his downturned and soothing vocals: a little bit of Nick Cave-cum-The National. Faker’s chocolaty tones are confessional and apologetic: “I’ve been told I am cold/Been known to sting”; delivered with emotional conviction and syncopated flourish (that enforces the lyrical potency). There are not too many songs that would contain the line “I’m a brute shooting from the hip”: it is delivered with much consideration; and as the dust settles here, soon enough the girls add their voices into the verse (“Straight in to my heart” is the first line the vocalists all share). Faker’s confessional sermon is not in the spotlight for too long, as our heroines dreamingly seduce: “In the dark you confess/That you’ve made this mess”. The chorus’ reintroduction (given what has come before) contains extra gravity: bolstered by a sonic collage of crackles, percussion and electronic sparks. When the vocals are blended during “You’ve made a fool of me”; it is both emotionally fraught, as well as strangely exorcised. The chimerical lovers duet pioneers on: shocked by an energised and intent vocal accusation (“How dare you“). The chorus is something that has a catchiness (is that the right word?) to it: the sway and sound will lodge in your mind, and recall itself to your lips consistently. When the final verse is unveiled; a rolling and tumbling percussive crackle summons in the words; which present the lover-as-a-machine parable. Our heroines sigh and ponder the possibilities of love: images of artificial and mechanical life forms are presented. If the distant and cold lover could be taught how to love; a mechanical being that followed instruction (“My machine”); then a compromise/satisfaction could be obtained: “I learn to reach inside your ribcage/Flick a switch and you engage”. It is during these phases that the Madonna/Persson vocal reminiscences are re-infused (together with the nature of the lyrics and music, produce an intriguing coefficient); the sense is one of strength and matter-of-fact honest- there is no quivering emotion or anger to be detected from our duo. Once the (hopeful) verse concludes; it makes way for a dreamy and emotive parable: with eerie and spectral rushes; wordless vocals; scratches and crackles and a gradual build-up. Without warning, a rampant and tribal drum line begins: cementing the coda’s magic and adding a layer of gravitational pull. For one last time (well it is repeated– semantics be damned!) the chorus is presented: the trio combine and- backed with the multitudinous and variegated sonic palette- herald the song to land: leaving you with some questions. As well as the song plays its part and gets into your mind; I was wondering how things were resolved: was satisfaction met, and did the ‘lovers’ make a truce? Was a compromise realised, or is an unsettling easement the future tense? Either way there is mystery and mystique aplenty; and one is happy that questions are remain, as the overall sensation is one of satisfaction. You hope that there is not too much personal heartache amongst our sisters’ hearts (the mandates of Fool of Me have seen ghosts exorcised). The abiding and authoritative sensation that you take from the track is one of wonder. That combination of voices blend superbly: each are dreamy and seductive, but have a potency and emotional resonance (that few contemporaries possess). The soundscape has touches of trip hop and experimental elements from the ’90s; fused with some keen ’70s fashions; polished with modern urgency and influence: augmenting the track and adding colours to the black and whites. Faker plays the role of illegitimate/wrongdoing lover perfectly: displaying resentment and thoughtfulness, yet capable of change and rebirth. The lyrics are constantly engaging and detailed; infused with sharp and intelligent lines, as well as deep and tender emotions (the chorus is especially memorable). It is the combinations of vocal, musical and lyrical lustre, which rises the song above the parapet of the modern-day expectation: displaying a quality and endeavouring nature that is synonymous with the best songs of the ’90s. Sweden and the Nordic regions are spearheading a new wave of vital and inspiring music; enforced by a qualitative edge and defined by a sharp mandate: mix emotional and symphonic sounds with gorgeous vocals; add focused and thought-provoking lyrics; make sure that the music remains in the consciousness for a long, long time.
Being a fairly new proponent of Say Lou Lou’s extraordinary talents, it is with fresh eyes that I approach Fool of Me. The girls have a sound and texture that fits perfectly within their native scene; yet is distinct and ambitious enough that it supersedes the next-best: making it one of the most immediate and essential songs this year. In the U.K. there is a scarcity of similar music (in fact there is none that quite have the same memorability); so it is axiomatic to say that we need more of Say Lou Lou. Most of my current malaise has surrounded the lack of explorative and ambitious new music- too many fledgling artists display music which seems incomplete and fairly hollow. The E.P. Julian has not long been released, yet is already gaining the stunning sisters a lot of fond patronage: devoid of hyperbole and over-exaggeration. Given what I know about Sweden’s current scene, it is perhaps not a great shock that the likes of Say Lou Lou exist (and have such exceptional chops). What is surprising is at how much mobility and variation there is within the marketplace of Nordic nations. The girls have spent time in L.A., Australia and London; managed to draw influences and D.N.A. from the diverse nations, and stir it into their aromatic recipes. Elektra and Miranda Kilbey have an assiduousness and passion for what they do: an ambitious and original eye for song writing, as well as a fond appreciation of the starling sounds of the ’70s and ’90s. It is rare- in this modern climb- to hear such haunting, yearning and spellbound sounds: especially from a duo so young, yet so mature. Fool of Me is a fascinating and memorable track, and layered with immediacy, nuance and majesty- and one that will leave a big impression in your mind. It is a proud representation of an E.P. which is filled with intention and multitudinous conviction- the title track is a dreamy track that stands up to many repeated listens. As much as the music bowls me over (the girls will not need my patronage and thumbs-up to make it a resounding success); it is the central figures themselves that impress. Possessed of (or blessed; if you are of a religious bent) startling beauty and girl(s)-next-door appeal, the twin sisters are impressive ambassadors of modern music. Too often I have encountered vapid and stupefied pop starlets (nary a thought in their hollow heads); arrogant and repellent rock egos, and dull and one-dimensional solo artists: where are the idols for those whom favour intelligence and fascination? Our Say Lou Lou heroines are the antithesis of the vagrant pop star: instead they are interesting, relatable and have a ubiquitous appeal (that is very rare). Whether it is because of my age (30-*sob*); but it is the common ground shared (between me and them) that marks them out as influential women. Their musical tastes of the ’70s and ’90s (as well as film preferences) were instantly familiar and plaudit-worthy (especially their English-heavy leanings: P.J. Harvey, Kate Bush, T-Rex, David Bowie etc.) In interviews, they come across as very humble; lacking in any ego, and completely in love with music. It is these facets and merits that elevate and highlight their musical qualities- marking them out as a serious future-prospect. I began the review by talking about the hardships one faces when trying to find genuinely great music (that is not U.K.-born). The media (as well as social media) is a paradox and contradiction that makes it easy to locate local and national new music; yet near-impossible to find many great international acts. As I say, I am in the process (the ‘ideas stage’ at present) of formulating and creating a music website; I hope will be an all-encompassing and encyclopaedic source for musicians, music-lovers (and the casual listener alike). Whilst many music sites focus heavily on one specific U.S.P. (Internet radio; music downloads- not so unique when you see how many sites offer the same thing); I would like to incorporate a multitude of aspects: Internet radio, downloads, new and old music; band recruitment/networking, music video pitching- and a whole (WHOLE) lot more to boot. It is only when the communication lines are strengthened and multiplied, that we can crawl out of the current miasma: a distinct lack of international awareness; compartmentalisation of the music scene etc. In the U.K. we are in the midst of a stifled and fair-weather music scene: one which relies too heavily on predictability and homogenised nature. Say Lou Lou have a universal appeal that can inspire cross-pollination, and a re-appropriation of new music’s (somewhat shaky) reputation. I was stunned by Fool of Me’s heady brew: psychotropic and seductive in equal measures. Having listened to the E.P., I am excited and curious to see where the girls go from here. Demand and expectation will grow and burgeon (as the E.P.’s existence becomes wider known); so it will be great to see if a new E.P. or L.P. will be in the works for the future. They have plenty of impetus and inspiration; great talent and awareness- and bring a lot of fresh energy and quality to a sub-par modern scene. Take a listen to Fool of Me (as well as Julian), and become entranced by its spectral qualities. Few (new) acts come around, that are as strong as them: so take these jaw-dropping girls to heart…
AND discover the treasures they offer up.