Gwenno Saunders of The Pipettes is about to release a self-produced EP on Peski Records. A woman of many talents, the EP reveals yet another side of the Cardiff-born singer. She's released music in Welsh before -- see this earlier post by me for a few MP3s -- but this new EP is an altogether more accomplished release. It really is a sort of revelation, especially for fans who know the singer from (admittedly sublime) Pipettes tracks like "Guess Who Ran Off With The Milkman?"
Here's my track-by-track review of the Ymbelydredd EP by Gwenno.
"Ymbelydredd" rides in on a One Dove-dance beat but the song never quite surrenders itself completely to the worlds of trip hop or dance music. Instead, the nostalgic tune coasts along on Gwenno's warm vocals and the subtle electronic backing track.
"50c" has a slight Human League vibe to it, thanks to the percussion and the keyboard riff, and the song lightly bounces forward on more lovely Gwenno vocals. The mix here is quite nice with some moments of multi-tracking that really remind a listener of what a beautiful voice Gwenno Saunders has.
"Astoria" is light and airy, a near late-period Cocteau Twins bit of musical business.
"Ti Yw Madonna" arrives on a strong melody line and Gwenno's voice here sounds more familiar. While the style is a universe apart from The Pipettes, astute fans can hear that Gwenno sound in the vocal work here. A hint of O.M.D. in the keyboard line is another nice touch -- think that band's "Souvenir" being covered by Altered Images.
"Despenser St." is my favorite cut on the EP. This song, about the street in Gwenno's hometown of Cardiff, has a vocal line that recalls -- in some weird way -- early Super Furry Animals even if the style of the track does not. (What is in the water over there in Wales?) Gwenno's voice, alternately tender and emotional here, makes "Despenser St." a charming and affecting tune. I don't have to speak Welsh to get the feeling of noslagia in this tune as Gwenno's voice conveys that sentiment perfectly. The instrumentation here is light and deft. The high keyboard figure is simple and effective while the percussive elements recall the best electronic bands of the late 1980s, as well as the more experimental early work from Wales' SFA.
Gwenno Saunders has really turned in a stunning and surprising bit of work here. Directly emotional and still otherworldly, the tunes on the Ymbelydredd EP reveal another side of Gwenno. Where The Pipettes were direct, witty, and concise, the material here is mysterious, spacious, and moody.
This is a lovely little record that recalls a slew of influences -- all great ones. Fans of Altered Images, Dot Allison, and Saint Etienne -- and The Pipettes -- are advised to check out this release as soon as possible.
Here's looking forward to more work like this from Gwenno.
For now, follow Gwenno on her Facebook page:
Or on her Tumblr page:
Or on the Peski Records Facebook page: