Because really, music exists purely to have meaning to me.

The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle (2012)

1. Set Me On Fire
melody: all I want is to remember / what came before this winter
I admit I’m a bit unimpressed by the lack of melody (amusingly enough) in this track. The backing vocals seem vacant and even Missy doesn’t get the feeling across. The real appeal of this is the line above, and the progressive(? note to self, get better vocab) instrumentation over the chorus – dragging, pulling.

2. Hello Hello
your disappearing act is getting harder to bear
Bluesy! I love this part of her voice: a bit like that in The Cactus That Found The Beat and Unbroken. Again, weird, almost-absent, empty backing vocals. Is that the cool thing to do these days?

3. Unashamed Desire
I’ve got nothing to hide
Cow bell! All songs need more cow bell! But really this song aches for what it could have been, and the cow bell is a bit ironic there. The chorus is quite lacking, unsupported; vaguely tuneless instrumentation. And again with those damn backing vocals!

4. Everyone’s Waiting
turn it off, I wanna turn it all off
Pretty clear why they’ve released this as the single: fairly classic Missy. At heart a piano ballad with those ol’ strings again. The reduction of the backing vocals to oohs and ahhs makes them less irritating. A familiar and bone-close sentiment: the sort of feeling that seems to fit every situation, every one of those moments. That perfectly captured desperation in “it’s getting harder to hear”, crushing. I admit I have heard this before (many times!) as the radio release, but I think it will be a favourite.

5. All In My Head
I didn’t know the dark light in my soul had been blacking you out
Saturated, weighed down by backing vocals – like getting caught under a sheet from the washing machine, heavy fabric that you can’t breathe through, cool on your skin but getting warmer, a bit uncomfortably so. A bit of an odd… epilogue? Not sure if I like it or not, but would revisit.

6. Temporary Love
let the love in, let the love in, let the love in
Catchy chorus! Again, there is something lacking in the vocals: I get this feeling that maybe she’s stretching her range? Like if she took the whole album down a tone it would have more body. I adore the feeling here – “I keep on trying to tell myself”, that ‘if I don’t make it too important it won’t hurt so much when it goes…. but this is actually totally a thing hellooooo feelingsssss’… ❤ Fond memories of feeling like that for Nick

7. Watering Hole
I stretched and I scratched and I pulled at that hole
A bit bluesy again, full of feeling. Pleasant use of backing vocals here, and they sound more like friends or neighbours than dull echoes. (OK, the harmonica and clapping helps here.) This song feels like a real collaboration, a documenting of music made together.

8. Tricks
I’m done with dressing up these words in delicate clothes
Finally, a bit of anger! I love when singers let go a bit with feelings, even at the cost of the vocal quality. Intriguing keyboard riff in the chorus. Lyrics are jaded and reflect previous songs like Drop The Mirror and Blind Winter – a bit harsh for everyday listening, maybe.

9. If I’m Honest
no-one / touches me / like you / used to
OH hello again feelings :3 The drawn-out line above just tugs at me. Instant love for this one. Backing vocals are perfect and really let her voice come through. Love love love. Also, feelings.

10. Cooling Of The Embers
and I can’t bring myself to meet your eyes
Oh yes. Yes. Heartbreakingly yes. Really stripped back, bare muscle, like watching a chest fill, stretch to fullness. Possibly it was the long day (it was 1am) but I teared up at this, a first for the album so far (excluding Everyone’s Waiting which doesn’t count because crying in the car isn’t exactly unusual for me).

11. Hidden Ones
watch as the lion eats the clown
A bit boppy for my liking but not a bad listen. Almost trite lyrics that sound pretty hipster-y in combination with the music – they’d have been better salvaged in a simpler, more innocent setting.

12. Sweet Arms Of A Tune
but sometimes every word has been used / and there’s nothing left to do
Guitar ballad. Lots of feelings. Oh, so many feelings. String section – a cello? Mournful, matched with a light piano riff in the background. Perfect use of backing vocals, the whole piece delicate but never fluffy: thin lace, threads reaching out to hold each other.

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Overall verdict? An album that gets better the deeper you get into it. Wade in, jeans rolled up to your knees. Don’t be put off by the coldness at first. It’s nice here.

[According to the internet, there are two more songs that form part of this album: downloads that I can pick up somewhere. I’ll update when I find those!]

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