In our new feature we look back through the archives and suggest artists of like mind and sound, and thus bring their fans to new music that may appeal. Here, if you’re a fan of Jennie Vee, meet The Raft; if you’re a fan of The Raft meet Jennie Vee and if you’re new to both… you’re in for a treat!
Jennie Vee – Spying (2015)
Jennie Vee lies somewhere between the glistening new wave pop of Blondie and the sharp cool futurism of The Jetson’s. The cover of her debut album, Spying, tells the full story: sharp lines, panda eyes, detached melancholia, aching style.
Spying is a place where troubled detachment meets feisty passion. A mixture of hot and cold textures and tastes collide. Love meets loss. Interaction meets isolation. The nearer she gets, the further away she gets. Jennie remains a paradox: both the girl next door and the unassailable star. She’s both glam icon and punk tearaway at once.
And so, subtle flavours of dreampop, new wave, post-punk, bubblegum and electro are combined like little gemstones of music history. You’ll find shards of The Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen, Siousxie & The Banshees and New Order in there. From contemporary music, the spectre of The Raveonettes looms large. Essentially if you like catchy songs with sharp guitars this is for you. Spying is for everyone sensible, then.
Throughout, the guitars are spiking peaks of pleasure, the drums mechanically stuttering nerve agents of rhythm. Jennie’s vocals veer from coquettish to a femme fatale hush. Sometimes she displays a starry-eyed child-like wonder, elsewhere we find her at the realisation that summer is over and things will never be the same again… “Why do you break everything you touch?”
Let’s look at some of the highlights:
‘Delicious’ is a pure winner, with a short, breathless drag race of pleasure. Tangy punk-lite with a hint of The Rezillos.
‘Real Eyes’ slides down like delicious poison; as if someone has twisted anti-freeze with blueberries… It has the same wintry passion and slow burn chorus of The Reegs ‘Chorus Of The Lost’.
‘So Hard’ has a tumbling sensation, like champagne springing from a mountain glade. The song is practically tripping over itself, eager for more.
‘Sleep It Off’ could easily have been created by The Chameleons for the glacial nostalgia of What Does Anything Mean? Basically. Each shuddering twang of the bass ripples like a cold night in Manchester in the 1980s.
‘Kiss The Dust’ clips along with a rocketing thrust, Jennie sounding like an astronaut on a collision course with oblivion.
A place where heartache is sweet and pleasure is never what it seems…
Jennie’s debut EP Die Alone was one of the best releases of 2014. Read the review here.
The Raft – Abloom (2019
It’s been far, far too long since the last full length release by The Raft but here we are with Abloom, a gorgeous flowering of Phil Wilson’s brand of summer-y dreampop. Phil’s gift is writing songs perfect for long afternoons in a beer garden with bottle after bottle of fruity cider…
The reason for this being that Phil’s songs inhabit a golden hued world delicately balanced between joy and melancholy.
‘Light Light’ opens the track a little gloomily, like a Dalek lullaby. It’s a cathedral at dusk with Ride at the pulpit. Near the 3 minute mark light (light) is allowed to enter, with a classic shining Raft surge of sweeteners. The curtain is dropped, the walls fall.
‘The Boy With No Soul’ really kicks us off with it’s laid back reminiscence of New Order’s “Regret”. Hmm… if you could bottle the feeling of a festival in summer it would sound like this. If bottles made sounds. Whatever, vibes don’t have to make sense. Guitars make like ripened fruit on the edge of turning sour.
‘Open Up Your Heart’ is more riff-y, like something off a New Wave CD compilation. This showcases a classic Phil chorus, resplendent with backing vocals.
‘The Morning Light’ sinks in quicksand, as life flows in aftermath.
‘Joab’ (I keep thinking it’s called ‘Jump’ too) is pure early 90s. This would slide easily into a breezy comedy movie of the era. Something set in California where the main character drives a VW Beetle.
‘Xanadu’ bursts like every memory of better times, moments of glory played out on a big screen. The spoken word section, slightly too quiet to hear, tickles at you like a memory you can’t place.
‘She Floats’ twangs like a shoegaze spaghetti western and launches into another simple, bold chorus. By the time we hit a guitar solo that’s nearly power ballad territory we’re all seduced.
‘Louie And Julie’ is more jaunty, half sea shanty and half shaggy dog story.
The Raft glisten and glow, beguile and bewitch. Things in your life not going so well… Abloom will lift you up a while.
But in this world, everything rises, everything comes back around, a lot like The Raft.
So there we go! Two of the best writers of pop songs in the shoegaze milieu working either side of the Atlantic! Enjoy!