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REVIEW – Cceruleann: ‘Hearts Stop’ single, 2012 (“uneasy allure”)

30 Jul

Cceruleann: 'Hearts Stop'

Cceruleann: ‘Hearts Stop’

Cceruleann’s previous, provocatively-titled pop single – ‘Fucking Wind‘ – seemed to be playing games with us. The soft, romantic sound versus that crude title. That sugary innocence, prancing onwards; oblivious to a silent looming hammer of anger. When I heard it, I thought it was supposed to be listened to from outside – that it was about the fury we sometimes feel towards the complacent and self-centred. It was as if the song had built a gun to point, teasingly, at its own head.

Hearts Stop doesn’t play the same shifting cards; but there’s still an odd, artful twist to Cceruleann’s songcraft, which means that anything even slightly unusual about them becomes loaded with significance. The fact that babydoll-voiced singer Marilyn and instrumentalist Elliot are siblings; that they live half a globe apart in Denver and in London; that together they’re writing these peculiar, minimal and contradictory electro-pop songs with their pretty little coatings… All of it adds to the uneasy allure.

This time, the artwork is a swarming beehive. Marching on an incongruous, thunderous hip-hop drumbeat and tuneful electropop bleeps, Hearts Stop is built around a slim haiku of lyric which Marilyn chants against a skein of wineglass warbles: “We can fly forever, / but we will fall when our hearts stop. / The fall will break us.” During the breakdowns, her multi-tracked voice twines coyly around itself, as new blips and patters worm their way into the skein. A distorted female laugh bubbles up in the mix, and stays there. A sampler dices and hiccups out the song title (two-and-a-half syllables of the haiku).

It’s as simple as that. And maybe it is as simple as that. Maybe there’s no more decoding to be done, and the bees are only wrapped around the single for effect. Maybe Cceruleann have just written another synth-pop anthem about love, broken hearts and death in the overblown way it’s supposed to go, so that we can keep singing songs about it.

Unless, perhaps, Cceruleann aren’t singing about love and heartbreak at all. Perhaps they’re actually making a point about work and obsession; about how we’re driven on by what we believe we ought to do, whether it’s grinding our lives to dust in a thankless job or slowly crushing ourselves to exhaustion against people and causes which simply don’t love us back. In this light, the song shifts into something different and more ambivalent – a sweet-sounding lemming-march, a chant for the worker bees who strive until they stumble and end and are swept aside for the next ones. Perhaps I’m imagining it. If so, it’s only because I don’t ever quite trust Cceruleann to play straight.

Cceruleann: ‘Hearts Stop’
Holy Underground Recordings/Bandcamp
Download-only single
Released: 10th July 2012

Buy it from:
Bandcamp

Cceruleann online:
Facebook Twitter Soundcloud Bandcamp

REVIEW – Cceruleann: ‘Fucking Wind’ single, 2012 (“waiting to be wrong-footed”)

6 Jun
Cceruleann: 'Fucking Wind'

Cceruleann: ‘Fucking Wind’

In love and on the road: it should be sweet. Instead, you’re continually waiting to be wrong-footed.

First, there’s the music – electronic dream-pop of a multiple-nostalgic kind. The tune is balmy. The blipping synth lines, the crude keyboard beats, the hiccuping voice cut-ups are all from ’80s sample pop. That dazed, wet-gossamer female vocal and the smudge of stretched-out organ goo (swirling from speaker to speaker), draws inspiration from shoegazery and similar blissful-nauseous mid-’90s psychedelia. The puffed hints of melodica and the yawns of bass swim in from first-generation post-punk; or perhaps I’ve just been drawn into the dream, and am imagining them.

Then there’s the song itself. A girl in a car, savouring the moment, coos the simplest, most sugary lover’s line. “It’s OK, baby, don’t worry / ‘cos we’re driving with the summer breeze in my face.” That’s it. There are four more words in the entire lyric, one of which is “ethereal.”

Finally, lurking around the corner like a mugger-in-waiting, there’s that blunt instrument of a title. It’s already plastered all over the cover art. You keep expecting it to come down hard and smash the reverie. Or, alternatively, for everything to turn metaphysical and carnal as the gale hits, the cuteness ends, the car pulls over and everyone starts rutting in the back seat.

For something so light and fluffy on the surface, Cceruleann’s debut single throws up plenty of confusion. Even more subtext gets plastered in when you discover that the band are a brother-and-sister duo (instrumentalist Elliot, singer Marilyn). If I were you, I’d do my best to ignore that for now. In some ways, that’s easy to carry out: though moving together in musical step, Elliott and Marilyn sound as if they’re musing in different worlds. Along the way, some of Marilyn’s words are caught up and shredded, then tossed like happy litter in the wake of the tune. As for that title, it never arrives in the song. The f-bomb remains undetonated. Have they scammed us? Did they just get sick of their own song and punish it with a sarcastic name?

Or perhaps we’re looking in the wrong place. Maybe the real story is about the other person who’s out on that drive – perhaps listening to this endless burble of contentment and seething, their knuckles clenched white on the wheel or wrapped tight around the knees, wondering once again why it’s so impossible to see how another person sees, to feel their feelings, comprehend their tastes… even to understand how you can get through a single day of being with them anymore. Maybe the romance of the playful summer wind is lost along with that. As it teases and strokes at cheekbones, perhaps on the other side of the car it’s whipping petulantly at a cowlick; and while fringe blows aggressively into eyes, and as love heads into the sour spot for good, perhaps something vile is being muttered into that uncaring breeze.

Cceruleann: ‘Fucking Wind’
Holy Underground Recordings/Bandcamp
Download-only single
released 14 May 2012

Buy it from:
Bandcamp

Cceruleann online:
Facebook Twitter Soundcloud Bandcamp

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