We're still trying to get into the habit of writing a couple of short and sharp album reviews each week, so that we can cover as many new releases as possible, and Swedish duo 'Les Shales' are definitely worthy of a few lines with their new album 'Nowhere's Eve'. It is an album which was sent to us last week without any fanfare, just one line asking us to take a listen, and that seemed rather nice - no big attempt to capture our attention, or use of a pestering PR companies to make the point.
So 'Les Shales' are a brother / sister duo, Judit and Erik Fritz, but it was originally formed by multi-instrumentalist Eric, who is also the drummer in one of our favourite indie bands 'Honeymilk', whom we've featured a few times. So whilst Erik intended originally to do most of the vocals with Judit offering backing support, in the end they liked the style of her voice so much that she became the feature vocals.
There is music to take you away from the strains of every day life, to get lost in during the morning commute and to transport you to a different place. Highlights include opening track 'Nowhere's Eve', where despite the whistling (see previous reviews...) it opens up with a lovely musical theme just 40 seconds in, whilst lyrically it sets out early one of the themes of the albums, the relationship with nature - ''trees are dying, such a monumental greed''. 'Lover Lost' offers intricate intertwining vocal melodies and harmonies that are endearing, whilst 'I Hope the Next Summer Will Be Fun' conjures images to me of the long summers I used to have when returning to rural England, and I particularly like songs that whisk my mind away to different places.
'Midsummer Night' has beautiful dreamy harmonies, and effortlessly seems to wander into a world of its own, and the albums concludes with a real favourite, the unusual 'We Both Know It's Over', with more complex instrumentation (I love the 'Rachmaninov' style piano chords in the background) and a jaunty melody that sits over the top.
There is a warmth to the musical writing in 'Les Shales' that I like, and whilst not all the tracks always quite hit home, there is a lovely texture to the music, with engaging harmonies, interesting layers of sounds and an easy going melodic lilt - from the dreamy 'Midsummer Night' to the more intense 'We Both Know It's Over'. It is probably the type of album that will get lost under the weight of bigger releases, but please try and give 'Nowhere's Eve' a listen, because it really will grown on you, and it is the perfect escape from the stresses of daily life.