The Original Faces
If you are a fan of ethereal and dreamlike vocals in your music then you are sure to be a fan of Liz Harris, most known for her work as Grouper. Here, Harris demonstrates her woozy singing style to great effect with her new band Helen and the poppy nature of the music here is in direct contrast to Harris’ vocals on Void, her contribution to last years stand out album Angels And Devils by The Bug and showcases a different side to her from her work as Grouper but one thing is evident no matter what she does and that is that her beautiful vocal style stands out on anything she does and this is certainly true for Helen.
The band describe themselves as a pop group and it is easy to see why with their knack for melody but this is pop done in a twisted way, from opening track Ryder with its off kilter and trippy guitar intro to the dreamy strum of album closer The Original Faces.
After that intro, Ryder kicks in with a wall of feedback and the melodic vocals of Harris take over and act as one with the music, kind of like a mixture of Cocteau Twins and a much poppier and much less abrasive version of Jesus And Mary Chain. The dreamlike nature and poppy nature of the music continues with Motorcycle and Covered In Shade through to Felt This Way, the upbeat Pass Me By and the divine Right Outside.
The hazy and distorted combo of Allison and the more mournful Dying All The Time are both brilliant examples of the diverse nature of Helen’s sound with the almost surf like guitar of Allison cohabiting wonderfully with the driving beat and dreamy bleakness of Dying All The Time.
The album continues in the same blurry manner with the presence of the calming vocals enhancing Grace and the warm guitar jangle of City Breathing before Violet and the sublime title track bring things to a glorious end that makes you want to put it straight back on again.
This is hazy music tailor made for summer days and early mornings or late dreamy nights such is the elegant nature of both the music and Liz Harris’ beautiful voice that coats each song with graceful beauty and the whole album coasts by in a dreamlike manner with its brand of shoegaze pop and shows just how good a vocalist she is and the band do a great job of letting that voice shine while creating an elegant soundscape for it.
Listening to The Original Faces feels like a pleasant dream, one that you wake up from with a smile on your face such is the warm and hazy feeling the listener gets with this gem of a record.
Helen– The Original Faces is out now via Kranky
Words: Gavin Brown