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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to…Trembling Blue Stars – The Last Holy Writer March 14, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....

Once there were the Field Mice, and very fine they were too, Sarah Records mainstay, feminist, thoughtful, rather sad, with hints and more than hints of New Order mixed in with their guitar pop.

And then there weren’t. But Field Mice alumni Bob Wratten and Annemari Davies regrouped as Northern Picture Library with drummer ark Dobson. NPL were a bit heavier on the electronica. And they stopped too. After which Trembling Blue Stars were unleashed upon the world with initially much the same line-up – the name copped from the Story of O, so it is said.

Now, it’s fair to say that there was never a great deal of difference in their sound. They often remind me of a Disco Inferno who instead of diving headlong into experimentation and making occasional forays into pop (of a sort) decided to keep a foot in a more melodic camp with very occasional forays into experimentation.

One notable aspect of all these groups has been the strain of melancholy that runs through them. But rarely has solitude, regret and melancholy sounded so attractive. Bob Wratten may well be a man who needs to get out more, but given what he and his comrades have produced perhaps it’s as well he doesn’t.

Beth Arzy came on board as bassist and across a number of albums provided lead vocals on an increasing number of tracks.

The “Last Holy Writer” from 2007, which while a late entrant in their canon demonstrates that a group can provide something close to a classic at any point in their career. but… if he and Arzy and the rest of the group can fashion songs so perfectly on note as these perhaps it’s as well he doesn’t. Arzy’s vocals both lead and backing are crystal clear, precise and cooly emotional.

And Wratten and Arzy clearly understand that albums like this need light and shade and speed as well as reflection. So it is that we are offered the New Order inflected pop/dance of This Once Was An Island, or the slower Darker, Colder, Slower or the bitter sweet almost Church-like jangle pop of November Starlings, and that’s just for starters. Idyllwild is kind of joyous. Mileage may vary on the, by now, characteristic dabbling in dance and techno. Personally I always liked that part of their output but others may disagree.

There’s a soft countryish tug to some of the melodies, not least the closer, A Statue to Wilde. It is heartening to see that Arzy and Wratten are back with a new outfit, Lightning in A Twilight Hour, this very month and are releasing new material under a new label.


This Once Was An Island

November Starlings

Darker Colder Slower

A Statue to Wilde


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