Four years ago The Rosie Taylor Project’s This City Draws Maps was released on the now defunct Bad Sneaker Records. A charming but understated debut, it carefully tips the scales between a resounding melody and gentle coo, with an atmosphere that wraps around each song like a security blanket. Ironically …Maps made a subtle impact on the British music scene – its delicate soul wasn’t distinguishable against the bustle of England’s capital, and only a select few ‘tastemakers’ heard its siren call.
Thanks to some outstanding perseverance on The Rosie Taylor Project’s part, in 2012 the sextet return with their sophomore Twin Beds on Odd Box Records. But instead of heeding the failings of its predecessor, the album jumps right off the deep end into a pool of lingering harmony and building effect.
When the balance works it works well: opener “Twin Beds (one)” starts with a resounding whisper that will pull at the heart strings of any The xx fan, but it doesn’t dive so far into a synth laden honey pot that it devours the band’s folk credentials. Likewise “Lovers or Something like It” nods at a Camera Obscura devotion without seeming saccharine, and “Last Drinks at Niagara Bar” sounds like early-R.E.M. if Michael Stipe had been raised on the Yorkshire Dales. When The Rosie Taylor Project get it right they send their music into orbit, acoustic guitar and all.
Unfortunately when they get it wrong the results are rather more grounded. A consequence of sounding light and breezy all the time is that some of the songs are whimsical, and worse, unessential. With the exception of wonderful closer “Gloria”, the phenomena happens towards the end of Twin Beds – perhaps a bad choice of track list or perhaps by then the listener is simply bored.
Whatever the case, The Rosie Taylor Project have missed a trick. I’m not suggesting they need to change to get anywhere – far from it; they have massive potential and a proven ability to write gorgeous pop ballads. They do however need to appreciate the power of a wakeup call, and the damning of an album full of sleepy lullabies. Hopefully their third album will be better.