Their previous album "Demon" was probably my most-played of 2006 and rates as one of my favourite of recent years. The fabulous 'Freejazz' single left me pining for more. I just didn't expect to be pining for this long! Yes it's been 2 years and I must say I find it strange, that after all that time, the album contains the single and its B-side 'Put On Hold', all be it in re-recorded versions.
Their first album provoked comparisons to the Pixies, which I thought missed the importance of the streak of wild playfulness and off kilter humour that made them sound so unique. It is ironical then that I find myself hearing the Pixies in the first half of this album so strongly, indeed the bass line on the opening track is pure Kim Deal.
I don't know if it was a conscious decision or not but, with the exception of brilliant 'Freejazz' the first five tracks on this album are fairly standard indie rock, which isn't to say they aren't good, and they will certainly go down well with fans of the genre, they just lack that unique Envelopes 'something' that made the first album so special. It's not 'til track six("Boat" an Audrey Pic showcase)that the album really kicks in. Everything after this is classic Envelopes with inventive playfulness to the fore(dull old curmudgeons should steer clear). A real stand-out is 'Put On Hold' which I hadn't been too keen on when I first heard it on the single but, in this newly minted form, is a real treat. Alas the album finishes way to soon and at 35 minutes could do with another couple of songs. Having said that, I hate it when an artist throws on some dull filler just to make up the numbers so I'll take this.
I must admit I teetered back and forth between 4 and 5 stars and ultimately decided to give them the benefit of the doubt as there isn't actually a duff track on the album.
How to snatch mediocrity from the jaws of victory . Envelopes -the half Swedish half French band follow up their 2005 debut album "Demons" with an album that's half inspired wonky guitar rock and half tepid party hard experi-mental gonzoid errr rock. An album that kicks off with some terrific Pixies style feral guitar anthems skitters awkwardly into a couple of turgid nonsensical mainly instrumental jams and ramshackle self indulgence. For all this I would recommend hearing Here Comes The Wind but be prepared to hit the skip button. The album stars well with the skittish guitars of "Party " and the phenomenal vigorous bass of "Freejazz" with it's nonsense lyrics. "Heaven" is like The Pixies "Subbacultcha" sung by the Orchids while the bouncing bass and itchy rhythm guitar of "Smoke In The Desert , Eating The Sand , Hide in The Grass" is like the Young Marble Giants covering Talking Heads. "Life On The Beach" is like Thin White Rope if they had lightened up a bit and by now I was thinking this album could be a classic. "Boat" , while a heartfelt song about a mothers fear of mortality , is a little too lo-fi at first but works up a terrific sonorous froth . "Put On Hold" though is an awful unfocused mess , "I'd Like To CU" starts with vibrant guitar slashes but becomes fiddly and annoying and "I'm In Love And I Don't Care Who Knows It" revokes the Pastels at their most incoherent . "What's The Deal" is what you may well ask as Audrey Pic struggles vocally over screeching trebly instrumentation. "Seawise" lacks a tune of any note , sounding like a half arsed retread of what has gone before. While it's commendable to experiment and try disparate styles this album doesn't gel ...the first six songs apart that is. When it loses focus and any identity after "Boats " it just becomes tiresome quite quickly . Which is frustrating after what has gone before but there again I seem to be on my own with this opinion . For me Here Comes The Wind starts off blowing a gale but declines into a series of exasperating squally showers.