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Friday, 9 September 2011

Record Review – Cliffie Swan 'Memories Come True'

Memories Come True
Drag City 

Debut album from female quintet formerly known as Lights (new moniker is an attempt to distance themselves from Canadian artist Valerie Poxleitner’s project, although who or what a Cliffie Swan is remains a mystery). ‘Dream Chain’ suggests we’re in for an Olivia Newton-John country album, but ‘Soft And Mean’ about-faces into some interesting guitar and electronic effects to accompany the treacly-sweet harmonies. You’ll also find some grungy girl-group cooing (‘Yes I Love You’), a dreamy title track with some nice flute flourishes and omnipresent harmonies, an interesting a capella tribal chant (‘Home’), and, best of all, a killer, wah-wah infected, swaying arms akimbo closer, ‘Climb on Top’, whose lyrics thankfully avoid the sexual innuendos implicit in the title.
‘Full of Pain’ tries on some fancy guitar pyrotechnics before settling into a rather nifty Savoy Brown groove (think ‘Hellbound Train’), and ‘California Baby’ appropriates a familiar Grateful Dead riff for a suitably spacey effect. 

It’s all rather agreeable, but may be a tad too twee(n) for some, like an ephemeral, muslin gauze kite floating through a lavender-scented summer breeze, occasionally redirected by an icy updraft. Lights fans (and anyone with the entire Sarah catalogue in their collection) will probably love it. For others, it’s more syrupy, girl-next-door Bangles than slutty, party-loving Go Go’s; Fanny is also a good signpost (or the Millington sister’s subsequent Ladies Of The Stage release), but singer Sophia Knapp (whose solo single Drag City also recently released) really does remind me mostly of Olivia trying to rock out. Not necessarily a bad thing, just don’t come to the party expecting to spend a lot of time on the dancefloor. (And despite what you may have read elsewhere, they sound nothing like Buckingham-Nicks-era Fleetwood Mac!)
Jeff Penczak

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