Monday, January 16th, 2012
A (re)introduction to Rose Elinor Dougall
last.fmI’ve been meaning to write up Without Why, the debut album from Rose Elinor Dougall, for well over a year now but for whatever reason never actually got around to it. And while normally almost year and a half on from its release is too long to give a record props, the fact that Ms Dougall is back on the radar with a new stopgap release while she wraps up work on her second album is good enough reason for me to revisit it.
If her name isn’t immediately familiar then perhaps her former stage name of Rosay, by which she went when she was one-third of the original lineup of The Pipettes, will ring a bell. The polka-dotted retro-pop trio was all the rage in 2007 but their actual musical merit couldn’t escape the shadow of the novelty and by 2008, things had essentially run their course and both Dougall and Rebecca Stephens, aka RiotBecki, had left the band to pursue their own projects. During her run with The Pipettes, Dougall was clearly the strongest singer of the three and the odds-on favourite to do something interesting on her own; a potential that she seemed set to fulfill based on some early singles and an impressive set at SXSW 2010 wherein she made clear that trading in her polka dot dress for a leather jacket went deeper than just a wardrobe change.
Not that Without Why is a rock record; it’s certainly moreso than the Pipettes ever were but it’s really a pop record that comes without any preset notions of what it should be, though it tends to orbit an uptempo, lightly baroque, and richly conceived and executed aesthetic. You can feel the freedom that Dougall enjoys from having full control over her sound and songwriting – she has sole credits on all but one track – and if there’s any shortcoming to be found, it’s that she takes too much advantage of it. There are points where a less showy vocal approach or lush arrangement might have worked better, but it’s never to the detriment of the song and really, it’s hard to fault someone on their first time out for having too many ideas.
Independently released, I was far from the only one to miss out on giving Without Why its due – hopefully album number two both gets and merits more attention. Dougall has just offered up an EP of unreleased material for free download entitled The Distractions, named for her backing band, but as The Quietus reports these represent more the tail end of the Without Why sessions than the start of the next album’s. But still, new music is new music and free new music is even better – plus it gave me the opportunity to (finally) get this post out of my brain.
Dougall released another free EP of demos a while back, which you can grab over here.
MP3: Rose Elinor Dougall – “The Night”
MP3: Rose Elinor Dougall – “Come Away With Me”
MP3: Rose Elinor Dougall – “Fallen Over”
Video: Rose Elinor Dougall – “Hanging Around”
Video: Rose Elinor Dougall – “I Have Always Known”
Video: Rose Elinor Dougall – “The Night”
Video: Rose Elinor Dougall – “Carry On”
Video: Rose Elinor Dougall – “Find Me Out”
Video: Rose Elinor Dougall – “Start/Stop/Synchro”
ZIP: Rose Elinor Dougall / The Distractions
It took Rebecca “RiotBecki” Stephens a little longer to get her post-Pipettes project together, but Projectionists appear ready to make their mark on 2012 – there’s interviews with them at CityLife and The Von Pip Musical Express and one of their songs available to stream below.
Blurt reports that the new Wedding Present album, which will be showcased along with 1992’s Seamonsters on their upcoming Spring tour, has the title of Valentina and will be out in March. They’re at The Horseshoe on March 25.
Stream: First Aid Kit / The Lion’s Roar