Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Serving Suggestion

She's sweet and layered and so hot right now - it's Pikelet.

It's not surprising, really. Her tale - hardcore drummer turned one-girl-and-a-loop-pedal twee balladeer - is compelling. The songs are nice and short and easy and whimsical (sorry Emmy) and quirky, and nicely produced, almost Newsom-esque, adding up to straightforward alternative radio fodder (cue RRR Album of the Week). And the loop pedal thing is zeitgeisty right now, what with Neddy Collette off in Europe and Andy Bird releasing close to album of the year, to name the obvious couple.

If you're going to write her off, as a good underground music snob, just because what she does sounds too obviously appealing, too easy, then go nuts. But you'll miss out.

For everyone else, the story is that Pikelet is Evelyn Morris, also drummer for Baseball and True Radical Miracle. She's just released her first album, self-titled on Chapter Music (how great are they?), and it's good, very good. It's very nearly as good as seeing her live, which is saying something, because as previously plugged here, she's a surprisingly compelling presence on the stage.

I think this is because of her mastery of all the bits of equipment surrounding her, the glockenspiel, tom-tom, guitar, piano accordion, all feeding into that trusty loop pedal. She hits most notes and when she misses, gently chiding herself and laying it down again, it's with perfect awareness of the audience, but no bashfulness. This is strange and reassuring as the songs are twee - "they never talked about his tiny body" or "why oh why sewerage man?" - and sound as if she could easily slip into a Crayon Fields-style embarassment and hurry. But no, she continues to build, layer the song with full confidence in her considerable abilities.

So, yeah, it's a good album. Plenty of good influences mixed in, though not dominating. Sewerage Man sounds like Joanna Newsom, though it's not exactly harp, just clean, pure plucked guitar. Bug-in-Mouth could be a New Buffalo track though the musicianship is better. The tom underlying A Bunch has echoes of Mimi's drumming for Low.

And then there's standouts like, Size Matters and Miss Hen, which aren't obviously of anyone else other than Pikelet. The harmonies she sings with herself throughout the latter are beautiful; and the craftiness of the underlying glockenspiel riff, kicking up to double speed to change the whole feel - it has to be seen live to be properly appreciated, but it's great here as well.

The album's not perfect, the second half losing a little, falling into a bit of reverb, and losing most of the gorgeous melodies of the first half. But it's a very good debut for Pikelet.

[listen on her myspace]
[buy the album direct from Chapter]


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