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on 24 November 2013
It was great to hear Psapp were back with their first album since 2008's The Camel's Back. The tracks and sounds on the album signal that some things have changed, but fundamentally their style is as loveable as before.
It's quite a short album at 40 minutes, but this has been the standard length of their previous full releases. The twelve tracks have the feeling of being hand crafted and specially selected to entertain.
Some of the standout tracks for me were the single Wet Salt which is lively and bouncy and features one of their favourite electronic organs, the philicorda. The Cruel, The Kind, The Bad is about escaping a relationship but deals with it in an optimistic way as it swings around in a fairground-style with an old trumpet playing in the background. In the Black is great with its faster tempo, folky influences, banjo playing and showcasing Galia Durant's beautiful voice exploring a poignant story. In Your Hot Knife there are lots of electronic touches, soft fuzzy noises, repeated sounds, distortions and the pleasant ring of a bicycle bell.
Their use of found sounds and inventive, unusual instruments are pleasing to hear. The themes are sometimes darker, but the mellow electronic organs and layered melodies make the experience otherworldly and brings a smile to your face. It is an excellent follow up.
on 2 October 2014
Put on in the background, Psapp’s latest and fourth studio album What Makes Us Glow chimes through the din of everyday life like a bright light in the big, dark ol’ world. To call it a beacon is an understatement. It’s soft, beautiful, indulgent and at times as vibrant as music can be. Whether this vibrancy is too much for focused listening is another question.
Psapp have long been an act who don't function like other bands. For those unaware, the duo’s early material revolves around cat-funnies, and documents a love of the feline species established long before Tumblr even existed. Oddity echoes throughout their career; often presenting in the form of a peculiar theme, and always making an impact on their sound. On Psapp's What Makes Us Glow, singer Galia Durant reigns back on the outright bizarre, but nevertheless manages to instill an image of humanity struggling through a jungle of foes, frenemies and adoptive parents. Sometimes, as is the case with “In the Black”, that description is quite literal.
The overriding sound of Psapp's What Makes Us Glow is an acquired taste, as the band have always been. Standout songs like “The Cruel, The Kind and the Bad” wash through the thick treacle of the duo’s chosen style. Others simply succumb to the chitter chatter of xylophone and trumpet. In the past, Psapp have bordered dangerously close to elevator music. Happily What Makes Us Glow avoids that description entirely – strangely making it their most commercial record to date - but it’s still a little bit too repetitive and laidback at times. Many listeners will undoubtedly hunger for more bite and less lick.
For everyone else, What Makes Us Glow is a gorgeous slice of Psapp at their best. Its cleansing sound and at times touching subject matter make it a sure winner in the books of existing fans, and it will probably convert others to the band too. What Makes Us Glow doesn’t break any boundaries, and it won’t make end of year lists, but it’s sure as hell the best on offer in 2013 for this style of music.
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