We liked the debut album from the Orcadian singer songwriter Erland Cooper and his illustrious cohorts but that second album is always a tricky one. Do they push themselves forward or settle for the tried and tested formula. With Nightingale they have gone for the latter with the folk histrionics of their debut replaced by Beefheart psychedelia. They have also used some unusual recording techniques, recording the album in the hull of a wooden boat moored on the Thames, attaching mics to the wood to catch the vibrations and lapping water outside.
There isn't anything around at the moment that sounds quite like this. Yeh, the likes of Jim Noir and The Corel try to but they don't quite manage to pull it off. Cooper proved with his debut that he has a love of fine literature and is again inspired lyrically from a wide range of sources including The Egyptian Book Of The Dead and TS Eliot. Psych fans will revel in the splendour of the darkly Gothic Emmeline and the sprawling and spiraling The Trees They Grow So High. The recurring theme throughout this record is the use of various analogue synths that add electro elements ranging from the killer riffs of Map Of An Englishman to the twee bleeps and blips of I Wish I Wish and East And West.
Just like his debut, this is not one of those albums that gets you on the first play but by the third listen you will have fully succumb to its off kilter charms. There are some moment of shear pop pleasure in the shape of Springtime, imagine a folk band playing New Order, and I'm Not Really Here, a song that sounds like it should have been the theme tune to some obscure 70's movie starring Michael Caine as an ordinary guy caught up in London's underworld out to avenge the death of his family.
This is a record that sounds like it was recorded four decades ago and that is a good thing. There is an earthiness and warmth to its sound that is as much a breath of fresh air as the music itself.