Erland And The Carnival – Erland And The Carnival (Full Time Hobby)

January 25, 2010 by  

There are some albums that are discovered like treasure, squirreled away and listened to in private. Then there are others that need to be shared with the world, played loud on the car stereo for all to hear. Erland & the Carnival’s self-titled debut album swings from one to the other, with its quiet seduction and folk-tinged ballads making way for a psychedelic swagger which reveals its seedy underbelly. The Carnival is a band of excellent pedigree; guitarist Simon Tong (The Verve, The Good, The Bad, The Queen) and drummer David Nock (Paul McCartney’s The Fireman) join Orkney folk-singer Erland Cooper for an evidently fruitful collaboration.

This album rolls in like a band of troubadours pitching up on the village green. Opening track, ‘Love is a Killing Thing’ is a re-worked folk song that gives tantalising hints of what is to come and ‘My Name is Carnival’ is sexy and understated. Things really get going with the irresistibly catchy ‘You Don’t Have to be Lonely’ and this frenzied, upbeat vibe also works on current single, ‘Was You Ever See’ with it’s punctuated hand-clap intro that is completely infectious.

Cooper’s vocal comes into its own on ‘Trouble in Mind’ and Tramps and Hawkers’, and pairs perfectly with the whirling waltzes and dark harmonies on these tracks – his heart-felt, “I only started living when I stand to lose it all” a particularly poignant lament. The galloping, Morricone-esque ‘Everything Came Too Easy’ and the stomping ‘Gentle Gwen’ give the second half of this album a retro, psychedelic feel which is executed perfectly and manages to fall on the right side of parody. That said, the faux-American accent and vocal affects don’t sit as well as Cooper’s more pastoral lilt on earlier tracks. ‘The Derby Ram’ is a real highlight however; a traditional song originally about a giant fictional sheep, its lyrics have been woven into a dark, true tale about a recent suicide.

The Carnival is an accomplished and eloquent debut, it’s second half demonstrating the band’s ability to pinpoint musical moments and create cinematic sounds. On earlier tracks though, Erland & the Carnival is just brilliant – using literary and musical references to create moments, which are at once familiar and unique.

[rating:4]


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