This article originally appeared on the peerless (yet now sadly defunct) Gobshout.com. It's owners are now Suburban Tarts, who should be visited post-haste...
The Golden Record released 04/11/11 on Secretly Canadian Records
The title of this record is a reference to the golden discs included on the Voyager spacecraft, which contain a representative sample of sounds, languages and music from Earth. The hope is that if the discs are ever discovered by an alien race, they will be able to play them (assuming they’ve not ditched the physical format) and hear a cross-section of our society. Douglas Adams once said that the discs were going to include the music of Bach, but the designers were worried that even vastly superior life forms might see this as showing off. But I digress. Already.
Little Scream’s full debut is, in this case, well titled. It seems to contain a whole range of styles, sounds and influences, all held together by Little Scream’s fragile, soulful voice. The album manages to perfectly pair beautiful lilting folk songs (The Heron and The Fox is a particular favourite) with a rather fine line in bombast (Cannons - Both these tracks can be previewed here). It almost comes as no shock to discover it is produced by Arcade Fire’s multi-instrumentalist and hell-raiser-in-chief, Richard Reed-Parry. The way the louder tracks build and incorporate many instruments is reminiscent of the producer’s better-known work.
But to focus too much on the production or the host of local Montreal guests (other members of Arcade Fire and The National chip in) would be to do Little Scream a huge injustice. Her voice and song writing are both beautiful, and the album drifts from quiet and introspective to epic and enormous (particularly the rumbling Guyegaros and the curveball intro to Boatman) with an ease that carries the listener along, whilst keeping them constantly guessing and occasionally (in my case) squirming with delight. The fact that the album closes to the sound of gentle rain, wind chimes and what can only be a synthesiser playing Land of Hope and Glory will give you some sort of insight into what we’re dealing with here.
This is an album that achieves the core purposes of the debut record: to showcase a phenomenal talent, to leave the listener already itching for the next release, and to make me long to see her live. It’s also a record inside which I could comfortably live; so complete and enthralling is the world Little Scream has created. When next she visits these shores (she’s just supported Jose Gonzales at The Barbican), I shall be waiting with baited breath.