Already in our good books for correctly punctuating the album title, a rare thing in this day and age, Jemma Freeman And The Cosmic Something further entice us by thundering in with reckless abandon on the feisty ‘Helen Is A Reptile‘ with shades of Elastica and a suitcase full of attitude. But this is anything but a 90s Britpop throwback, as there is truly an abundance of fabulous artists from whom Jemma has clearly learnt her craft. And what’s more, she’s only taken the very best bits, and created a quite dazzling album as a result.
Take ‘Keytar (I Was Busy)‘ as a case in point. Part Eurythmics, equal parts Marina and Tango In The Night era Fleetwood Mac. In fact, it’s a lot of fun trying to establish the reference points in each track, and there must be a good fifty of them every time. It also maintains a commercial bent that is impossible not to become smitten with.
One of the keenest comparisons would be with that of PJ Harvey, whose spirit permeates throughout, to varying degrees, and let’s face it, if you’re going to have a role model, musically at least, who better than Polly Jean? Even so, Oh Really, What’s That Then? still has the capability to surprise us, and to that end, ‘Kopenhagen‘ sounds like it could have come from the musical Hair, at least in its chorus anyway, and quite honestly that just makes me love it even more.
‘What’s On Your Mind?‘ has a touch of Throwing Muses about it, and towards the tail end of the album, there definitely seems to be the odd nod to All About Eve here and there too. In fact, these compositions are so effective that it made me wonder if they’d been painstakingly honed to such an extent that Jemma perhaps fell to the floor in a crumpled heap when it was all done and dusted. It’s quite simply a tremendous piece of work, and sounds exhausting. Few records this year have offered up such perfect pop tunes as the relentlessly catchy ‘Heaven On A Plate‘, but to juxtapose that with the ‘wind on your face’ road trip rock of the dramatic finale ‘Tasteless‘ raises Freeman to another level altogether.
This is a great, great record which only improves with each listen. Those end of year lists will soon be upon us, and there’s every chance that Jemma and co will find a place in my top ten of 2019.
Oh Really, What’s That Then? is released on 18th October through Trapped Animal.
Orange vinyl copies – EXTREMELY limited – available here: http://www.trappedanimal.com/products/search?q=jemma+freeman