ERLAND AND THE CARNIVAL – Nightingale (Full Time Hobby)

I got Erland And The Carnival’s first album when it came out in 2010, but never played it much as when I did it seemed to drift past without making much impression. I don’t know why I decided to get this one, but I did, and like their debut it didn’t make much of an impression on first hearing. When I got round to listening to it again a few weeks later I realised that I remembered the opening track enough to hum along with it, and on third hearing I could do that with nearly all the others. Now the songs are old friends, and I really can’t see why I didn’t realise how good this was when I first heard it. Like Dry The River, Erland And The Carnival were lumbered with the indie-folk tag when their first record appeared, and also like Dry The River they have shunned that label for their second album and present us with a collection of great indie-pop songs. ‘So Tired In The Morning’ opens, and once heard you will soon see why it stuck in my mind so quickly. Its XTC-like jerky rhythms and catchy tune make it the perfect song to introduce this new sound, while ‘Map Of An Englishman’ is no less good for the fact that it take a more straight-forward rock approach to the tune. ‘Emmeline’ starts with some atmospheric chords on the keyboard to introduce this spooky little song, before a galloping beat takes it off in another direction, and it is left to ‘I’m Not Really Here’ to lift the mood – musically if not lyrically, with its upbeat chorus at odds with the depressive lyrics. ‘This Night’ is a great little indie rocker, with its simple yet effective intro, and the title track pares back the instrumentation to the bare minimum, with fractured guitar chords over squelchy synth burps for an eerie feel to the verse, which makes the chorus sound even bigger when it appears with a full band backing. ‘Wealldie’ is another track with a simple but effective rhythmic intro, leading into a gentle ballad, apparently based on the Egyptian Book Of The Dead, while ‘Dream Of The Rood’ is another track that takes its inspiration from an ancient text, this time an early Christian poem. Although lyrically inspired by the past the music is still bang up to date, and both songs work well. ‘Nothing Can Remain’ winds down the album with a reflective ballad, and for the first time does not include an infectiously catchy chorus. Being a long-time reader of Fortean Times, I particularly liked the cover image of a photo from the Enfield poltergeist haunting case. Although I don’t get the connection with ‘Nightingale’, it is a sleeve that will get people talking, which can only be good for the band. To be honest, though, they don’t need it, as a couple of listens to the music on here will convince you what a great album this is.


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