The fascinating end product of a chance encounter...

Pet Deaths’ fine debut is the creative product of a chance encounter in London’s Ladbroke Grove, numerous writing - and drinking - sessions, experimentation with loops and poetry and a lot of hard work.

The nine tracks sound natural, and whilst it may seem as though Graeme Martin and Liam Karima are led by instinct, there is also a sense of play and experimentation. When they released the track ‘Wind Up Bird’ earlier this year, it was a hint of what to expect from their debut.

Understated and accompanied by melancholy, the celestial folk songs are delivered with sincerity and the fascinating lyrics are wrapped around the infectious soundscapes. The sound is simple and complex at the same time. It is sparse , yet it is very rich.

‘To the Top of the Hill and roll…’ is an immersive piece of work. Each song has a narrative, a life and the chosen song order helps to tell a tale of sorts. Album opening track ‘Wind Up Bird’ is a stunner, and although it begins quietly, it develops slowly but surely before mutating into a much bigger deal. The complex vocals sound confident but there is also fragility. The track deals with a relationship that is “slowly taking a bitter turn”.

Consistently seen through what seems to be semi-realistic, semi-fictitious filters, the album explores existential aspects of modern life with lyrics that take some inspiration from the likes of Haruki Murakami and Allen Ginsberg. The themes are supported in inventive ways with everything from hypnotic sounding guitar loops and deeply haunting harmonies to persistent drums beats.

Musical influences and styles show nuance and imagination. The Elliott Smith-indebted ‘Did You Lose Your Silver Mind In Nevada?’ portrays a fascinating character who happens to be based on a person in real life.

At a first listen the ambiguous ‘Meet Me At The Avalanche’ appears to signify the end of something, but could this in fact be the beginning as well? Conceptual thinking, or creating music with a wider idea in mind, is no longer the order of the day but this album has enough ambition to think in such terms.

It is a sparkling effort all around.

7/10

Words: Susan Hansen

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