What does it sound like?:
With their bold debut, Waiting In The Bliss, Sylvette set their stall out as Art Rock. They name themselves after Picasso’s muse Sylvette David, no mean artist herself. The cover is one of his paintings of her. They are a four piece from Manchester, featuring, of course, a violin. Their music is serious, purposeful and yearning, begging comparisons with Jeff Buckley and Radiohead. Art Rock they must be.
Most of the burden rests on Charlie Sinclair’s slender shoulders. He sings and plays lead guitar. His voice is one of a sensitive artist, trembling, passionate and spilling into falsetto at moments of excitement. There is a similarity to Jeff Buckley at his most flighty and melodramatic but lacking the power and the emotional heft. His guitar playing is extraordinary, glittering with glissandi. At times, he wouldn’t sound out of place on OK Computer. Ashley Garrod, bass, and Pete Leaver, drums, are a suitably dynamic rhythm section deftly changing pace sometimes several times in one song. In an Art Rock band, one would normally expect the violin to add spectacle but Oz Tabor concentrates on filling in holes, smoothing over cracks and providing a platform for the others to launch their flights of fancy.
Waiting In The Bliss bristles with white privilege and first world problems. There are eight songs, all originals. They are full of movement and texture, structured to contain quiet passages in which Charlie moons over some girl, then increasing waves of intensity as his longing threatens to overpower him. The poor lamb sounds in need of a cool towel to mop his fevered brow. The lyrics pull off that age old trick of being deep and meaningless at the same time. There are two exceptions. Leader belongs on a funkier, poppier album, the only track to have a hint of catchiness and a touch of aggression in the guitar break. The finale, Mars Song, is a delicate, acoustic farewell that very gently readies the listener to return to the real world.
Waiting In The Bliss is a noble attempt but a near miss nonetheless. Sylvette are so nearly there. Their commitment, musicianship, good looks, floppy hair and swooning romantic whimsy will win them a loyal following. They’ll improve with a few more bruises from life, a whiff of desperation and some edge. I wish them well on their journey into intense and emotional Art Rock.
What does it all *mean*?
Sylvette and their music seem like misfits, belonging in another time and space. It will be interesting to see if that works to their advantage or not.
Sylvette David’s real name is Lydia Corbett. I don’t suppose calling themselves Lydia was ever an option. Doesn’t quite have the same cachet.
Goes well with…
A teenage crush on someone unobtainable and, let’s face it, we all have those.
Might suit people who like…
Grace. Mainly Grace with a bit of OK Computer.