I Don’t Miss You
I Don’t Miss You is available at:
1st November, 2015
IT has been a fraught week to say the least…
With a lack of Internet connection, I have been forced to catch up and tackle reviewing head-on. I have known about the work of Mary Spender before and love her voice to death. When I heard about Svelte (a duo she fronts with Jacob) I was keen to dive in and investigate. It brings to mind- when listening to the duo’s music- about a few things. I am thinking of the importance of diversity, duos coming through and Bristol music- in addition to geographical sound break-down. I have been listening to a lot of ‘90s music at the moment and bemoaning the lack of quality in some modern music. There are few music-lovers that can deny the majesty of the ‘90s: the decade is music’s finest and cannot be topped in my view. The range and diversity of music on offer (in the decade) is staggering. From Grunge and ‘Britpop’ through to Pop and Dance, it was a decade that will never be equaled. As the ‘00s drew in, music did suffer a slight dip- although some fantastic albums and acts came out. It has only been the past decade that has seen a real drop in form. Whether music is exhausted or the talent is not as startling; I long for the days of the 1990s and all it had to offer. When I review great acts- and the finest music coming out- I see some potential and quality. Our very best and brightest are those that do not simply put in the bare minimum effort. Those musicians that had a great upbringing- tied to some excellent musical tastes- who really strike the imagination. Blending genres and sounds together; doing something unique and imaginative- that is what gets the top honours and applause. The ‘90s were so magical because of the variety and depth of music that was out there. The phenomenal Dance/Trance movements and ‘Britpop’ regency was just the start of things. It is near-impossible to reign-in and define the ‘90s for all it provided and stood for. Musicians should take note and look at what came through then. Too much of today’s music is stale and unadventurous. Svelte are a duo that are just what the music world needs right now. I have heard too many boring and lifeless solo acts come out; bands and groups that copy others for their own means. When it comes to the Bristol two-some, you will struggle to compare them to anyone else directly. Promoting a sound that marries harder Rock edges with Electronica bliss; stunning vocals and terrific compositions into a whole that is hard to beat. Not too much is known of the duo and their biography: when they came together and who influences them; when they are playing live and what the future holds. What I do know is they are busy recording and preparing a new single. The duo have a nice little concept at their feet: they are going to be releasing a single on the first day of each month. A lot of acts are too concerned with E.P.s and rushing material out there. Svelte have ensured they have a steady stream of music coming without leaving gaps in-between. With a new song arriving each month, fans get a chance to see how the duo’s developing. This month saw the release of I Don’t Miss You: a song that ranks among their finest and shows just what a stunning act they are. On December 1st a new song will be unveiled and it will be exciting to witness. Before I investigate the music itself I am reminded of duos and what they offer. In previous reviews I have mentioned the dynamics and subject matter of various duos. London two-pieces are among the most diverse and memorable. Duos from other parts of the U.K. offer different sounds and themes and that really got me thinking. Whether it is the relationship status of the duo- they could be partners or friends- or where they hail that moulds their sounds. It is that music formation that provides some sensational music and wonderful interplay. It is the harmony and bond of the duo that appeals to the musician and writer in me. Whereas bands can be quite unwieldy and impersonal; solo acts somewhat lonesome and singular- the duos are a different prospect altogether. Most tend to be a boy-girl make-up (there are some exceptions) and I always love hearing what they come up with. Whilst a lot of their peers deal with Pop and Folk concerns, Svelte are more mindful and ambitious. Commentators and reviewers have noted the myriad mix of genres and sounds. That stunning and unforgettable central voice perfectly sits with vibrant and passionate compositions that are among the most original and daring out there. Svelte are based out of the city of Bristol: a location that has provided some of music’s very best, it is not shocking to see another terrific Bristol act. Perhaps inspired by Bristol legends Portishead and Massive Attack, the duo is adept at weaving ‘90s Trip-Hop/Electronica with something contemporary and fresh. Bristol is showcasing some wonderful acts at the moment and some of the U.K.’s most ambitious and original examples. Whereas London is perfects leading music’s charge it is Bristol that is providing the most interesting and impactful sounds. I am a big fan of Electronica and its prowess so Svelte are a duo that I am keen to support and follow. With a new song due in the coming days, it is a great time to get involved with the Bristol two-piece. With few like-minded peers, they are an act that are giving music a kick and breathe of fresh air.
It would be all well to review the latest track and just leave it there you’d think. For a more comprehensive investigation of the duo it is worth seeing how their latest cut stacks up against their previous fare. Being a fairly new proposition, there is not a great archive of music to contrast and compare. Both members have made music before Svelte- I am a particular fan of Mary’s solo work- and Svelte is something different altogether.
Sleeping Tonight was released four months ago and begins with a buzzing and vibrating electronic slam. A heavy and hard beats sees lyrics looking at clothes hitting the floor- not to be collected until next morning. Looking at a central figure that is in a daze and drunken; we look at twilight tangling and unwise decision. Mary’s voice is perfectly suited to ascribing a scene of ill-fated bonds and disenchanted ideals. Soulful and rich, it marries with the strumming and stridulating electronics. Riffled beats come in and tangle with hollow echoes. A composition that develops and alters as the song progresses, it is a song that constantly keeps you guessing. A memorable and sing-along chorus makes the song accessible and nuanced to the masses. It is the interplay of the duo that really captivates and they blend their individual talents into the mix. Such an energetic and snaking composition backs and propels a wonderfully striking and emotive vocal.
Façade arrived a month after Sleeping Tonight and begins with a different tone and objective. Lighter and more sleepy, the beats and electronics are more restrained early on. Mary’s voice is more romantic and soothing than on Sleeping Tonight. Feeling slightly exhausted and bereft, our heroine wants the ground to swallow her up. Having her soul and identity taken away, that sense of suffocation and disability comes to the fore. Lost and hopeless, you root for her and wonder what has caused this sadness. Perhaps a relationship has broken down or a friend has betrayed her trust. It looks at a boy who has left others “an empty shell”. That inimitable and varied voice- that goes from a husky chocolate to something sensual and velvet- rules the track. Whereas Sleeping Tonight saw the composition on an equal footing, it is the voice that takes the lion’s share of the honours. Pin-sharp and haunting the one moment; meaningful and raw the next, it is a wonderful performance. The beats are kept minimal yet provide a stormy and evocative backdrop to the song’s themes of betrayal and heartache. A leap forward from their earliest cut; it shows how agile and varied Svelte is.
Lipstick Melts begins with a passionate and intriguing compositional beat. Mary’s voice is at its most sensual and direct; propelled by a punchy beat, the song is as stunning and picturesque as its title. Our heroine’s world is “ending tonight” and gets the listener immersed in the song. Rapture is arriving and perhaps a romantic explosion is due. There is that sense of not letting go and separating. Whether a relationship refuses to break or the lovers are not moving on, it is a song that begs for deeper interpretation and exploration. Mary’s voice seems more confident and assured here whilst Jacob’s guidance and swathes are at their most daring and stunning. The entire song perfectly merges classic Trip-Hop glories with something contemporary and modern-day. Original and deeply personal, the song showcases the duo’s consistent songwriting and evolution ambitions. Not sounding like any other track they have produced, few other acts are able to sound completely different and consistent at the same time. Svelte change subjects and directions from track-to-track without compromising ideals and originality- each number shows a new skin and concern; a distinct theme and idea.
In October, the duo put Time (Put It All Together) out there and once more it signaled a new move and motivation. Primal and urgent from the offset, it is a dominated and pressing electronic beat that gets into the mind. Our heroine’s voice is both relaxed and passionate as we see blurry views and auto-focus being ascribed. Trying to put their pieces together, there is a mystique behind early lyrical ideas. Having wasted time on a central subject- a boyfriend or former lover perhaps- our heroine will not spend another moment “feeling blue” and “feeling used”. The song develops into something more uplifted and spirited. The electronics augment and raise- whilst being underpinned by a constant electronic burble- and the composition expands and ignites. Detailed touches and elements come together- electronic guitar strings and processed vocals- to create an atmosphere that is heady and exhilarating. Emotive and impassioned, the song is one of the duo’s most memorable and stunning. Mary’s voice is at its most instant and wondrous here. That busy and accomplished composition perfectly pushes and propels her performance whilst creating its own gravity and personality.
With every release, Svelte become more confident and stunning. Seemingly at their most inspired, the last couple of months have seen them at their very peak. With the talent on display- sensational vocals and tremendous compositions- they are capable of changing course and colour seemingly effortless. I Don’t Miss You continues subjects of romantic concerns and separation whilst covering the topic with new life and a new angle. The finest cut the duo has unleashed, it is the perfect summation of their joint talents. It ensures future singles will be much-anticipated and celebrated and I can see some amazing numbers arriving. At no stage has the duo ever slacked or dropped the ball and I would love to see an E.P. or future album arrive. There is so much quality and range to be found so the options are out there for Svelte. With a new single coming each month, it is a wonderful way to get constant Svelte music- something daring and amazing with each new venture.
Subverting my expectation from the off, I Don’t Miss You arrives with merriment and urgent rush. Light and upbeat; busy and catchy, you get tripping and funky bass with echoed vocals and electronic motifs. Unlike any introduction they have released previously, the listener is immediately taken somewhere different and new. Our heroine arrives in the spotlight- after the insatiable and stunning opening phase- to give evidence and testimony. The song is about- and the tale really concerns- “a claim to fame without the fame” and a story of “when you were young”. The initial sentiments get my mind delving into possible interpretations and truths: maybe we are looking at a tabloid star or a fake star? Perhaps it is a former lover that is bad news? When Mary sings a “soldier without a gun” a photo-taking (during a summer holiday) there is an insight into a relationship and a break-up. That lack of bravery and backbone- on behalf of the track’s male role- we get a window into a callous soul and someone that has caused pain and hurt. It is clear there have been arguments and debates raging. The chorus looks at the heroine strangely at peace and unaffected. Not missing him/things as much as she should, it is evident the relationship was not as solid and meaningful as it could have been. Many songs investigate relationship wreckages and the nature of the wake. Whilst most singers and acts are filled with anger and accusation; we get a more dignified and mature approach to the subject. As gripped as I was by the vocal and lyrics, the composition gets equal billing and does not demure into the shadows. Not as heavy and pulsating as some of the past songs- Façade for one- the track lets a lighter and more open composition exploit the urgency and quality of the vocal. It appears the song’s hero- although that seems like a grandiose word for someone not at all heroic- was looking for s life simpler and less complicated. It seems like euphemism for commitment and seriousness. When things were getting serious and deep he has retracted and run. Someone in in for the wrong reasons- and maybe interested in only the physical- the first signs of purity and meaning have caused him to become immature and cowardly. Not allowing this to cloud her soul and cause her true heartache, our heroine has a very pragmatic and dignified assiduity to her retorts. Not casting blame or sounding too vulnerable, the lyrics are perfectly measured and delivered to project that sense of moving on and strength. As the song develops, my thoughts look elsewhere. Whilst the lead wanted a simpler love and relationship, it seems he could not stomach a simple life and existence. When it comes to a “simple wife” and normal job, it seems he wants something more. Our heroine has provided advice- to protect the man from hurt- and it may have backfired somewhat. The two were looking for different things and different lives. Having parted ways and separated there is not that recrimination and slander coming through. Whereas our heroine is in her hotel room imagining possibilities and seeing the world- able to travel and cut loose a lot more- she is freer and happier. Not being tied down and obedient- it seems her former beau wanted someone diligent and stay-at-home- there is that emancipation and new lease on life. Our lead is at her very best and looking forward to new challenges ahead. A healthy approach to love and break-up; I Don’t Miss You is a new take on a common theme. It is that composition-and-vocal combination that really comes into play throughout. Little details are thrown in here and there- from fragmented electronics to processed vocals- to create atmosphere and emotion when needed. Svelte do not clutter the song and have made it simple enough to breathe and inspire. From beginning to end it is a track that delights the senses but compels you to think. A personal tale and survey, it is a song that many people can relate to. Many women (and men for that matter) would have had that relationship that was due to shatter. Perhaps it was not real love- or a relationship that would have gone the distance- where there is actual positives to take from its cessation. Mary’s voice and talent ensure the lyrics are cliché-free and contain some real stand-outs. With Jacob, the duo has created a song with a wonderful rich and vibrant composition tied to a true-to-life and emotional lyric.
Both parties bring their talents and skills together to create a wonderfully nuanced and memorable cut. The vocal is consistently impassioned and urgent- two words I use a lot for good reason- and the conviction and drama are all there. Not heavy-handed or too dramatic there is plenty of life and light to be found too. Soulful and Pop-based; with a Rock-sharp tongue to boot it is a voice that is constantly stunning and agile. The lyrics contain some lovely little sentiments and images- the idea of (the hero) being a “soldier without a gun” and the sense of plot and development stand out- to create something that will be played again and again. The composition is probably Svelte’s best as it draws in their past heaviness and weight with something crisper and more developed. Pulling in so much colour and so many different emotions, it is a sound that perfectly augments the centre whilst standing out on its own when needed. Bringing those elements together, the production values are assured and polished. Allowing both clarity and raw emotion, we get a production that perfectly suits the song and ensures each element comes together seamlessly. The finest moment Svelte have created, I Don’t Miss You is a song that gives 2015 a mighty send-off- who knows what December’s single will contain? All I know is that Bristol’s finest duo are in rich form and are in no danger of slowing any time soon.
Knowing Mary Spender and what an accomplished musician she is, it is no surprise Svelte are such a stunning force. Jacob and Mary have a solid bond that comes through in their glistening and multi-layered sounds. I Don’t Miss You reconciles Mary’s previous sounds and ideas with something more adventurous and multi-coloured. I have checked their previous singles and Svelte seem to be getting stronger and more confident with each release. From their initial unveilings, the duo has stepped up a gear and sound at their peak here. On December 1st we will get a new song and a fresh chance to hear one of Bristol’s best new acts. The chemistry and intuition of the two players radiates in their music which reminds me of the ‘90s’ very best moments. Music’s king decade boasted consistent quality and a range of sounds that has not been matched since. Electronic motifs and Pop wonder sparred with harder Rock gems and everything in-between. What Svelte have produced is something (a song) that mixes all these elements together with a vibrant sound of 2015. Too many musicians and artists are concerned with playing it safe and honing themselves from the off. Our duo is one of the most stunning and original out there and will go on to big things. With so many artists out there at the moment, it is hard to decipher which will be the ones to watch in 2016. There are some great bands and solo acts emerging, yet it is the duos that are sticking in my mind. Before I complete the review, I am going to return to my original points about duos, geography and sound variation. I feel the band market has reached a bit of an impasse at the moment. There’s a few good bands emerging yet I find there is little innovation and originality to be found. Aside from the likes of Everything Everything and Royal Headache- two of my favourite acts from this year- there are still too many that are too limited and stale. Once upon a time ago we had acts that displayed vibrancy and stunning songwriting; a power punch of emotion and passion. Something is missing this year and I hope 2016 unveils some genuinely great and worthy acts. There are some impressive solo acts out there, but for my money, there are not enough. It is the duos that will provide the best possibilities in the coming year. This year has been a damp and disappointing one for mainstream music so we cast our eyes to new music. Whilst it is hard to get a grip on all the fantastic acts coming out, we can at least swim through the mist and uncover those worthy of fond affection and support. Svelte have hit about a great concept- when it comes to releasing a new song a month- and are no gimmicky act at all. Their music ranks among the most refreshing and immense coming through right now. If those gorgeous and passionate vocals do not get into your mind then that detailed and soul-hitting composition will win you over. The duo pen lyrics and music that will resonate with many listeners and tap into the concerns and experiences of the average listener. It is only left for me to see what the future holds for Svelte and how they compare to their contemporaries. With Bristol heating-up as a musical centre, I am not shocked to find another tremendous act come out of the city. Since the early-‘90s Bristol has been showcasing some of music’s most agile and innovative musicians. Not just workaday Pop/Folk acts, Bristol is more interested in harder and darker Electronica layers; songs that are detailed and challenging. I hope Svelte play London very soon as it would be a great chance for the capital to witness one of this country’s brightest hopes. A duo that has their eyes set on the future, the connection Mary and Jacob share is electrifying. In a live setting I can imagine something rather wonderful unveiled. I am not so down on the music of 2015 yet I think something has to occur: a kick up the backside to get tongues wagging and musical minds inspired. What we have at the moment is a mainstream that is rather average and unpredictable. New music is perhaps providing more consistency and quality but there are still issues and concerns emerging here. So many acts replicate others and do not really push themselves and their sound. Whether that indicates a lack of talent and intelligence, I am not sure. No matter because the likes of Svelte are providing plenty of salivation and insight into what 2016’s sounds will be. After a stressful and frustrating past week, I Don’t Miss You is a song that has provided some solace and uplift. There has been a glut of sensational music this past few months so it is wonderful to discover an act that are bringing the magic back. I shall be keeping my eyes primed to Svelte’s social media feeds in the coming weeks. When December hits us, that first day will see a brand-new Svelte number. Whether it harks to their sapling single or carries from where I Don’t Miss You left off? It may be dystopian and dark or it may be a joyous overhaul of emotions. Who knows, huh? That is the great thing about the Bristol act. Such a diverse and fertile duo, they keep surprising and delighting with each release. If you have not heard them then make sure you check out their latest track and dive into their past- they will be names to watch for sure. For all uninspired bands and solo acts looking for a way to improve/alter their music then look no further. Svelte show how it should be done and will compel and inspire others to…
PUT the invention back into modern music.