Corbu - Crayon Soul (3Beat)

Corbu – Crayon Soul (3Beat)

Does anyone else, when confronted with a new act, deliberately eschew any prior research and listens to something merely on its merit? Do you forensically deconstruct every line, every note, in the hope of second guessing their references and sense of place? Anyone? Oh, just me then. This week I opted to hone my psychic technique on Corbu, an act only a handful of vowels away from Caribou and not that many notes away musically either. The conclusion I reached was that the band were French, probably Parisian and heavily influenced by M83.

So welcome to Corbu, the New York electro psych troubadours lead by multi-instrumentalist and head honcho Jonathan Graves who allegedly aspire more towards Boards of Canada and Animal Collective than anything from continental Europe. Evidently, I am way off beam. Or am I? Corbu have already been labelled as “dream pop,” that terrible moniker which offers visions of effete frontmen being consumed by oceans of spiralling nothingness. Yet Crayon Soul starts out life as way more than a flimsy nod to a redundant genre, ‘Polygon Forest’ could, in another world, be a space-age accompaniment to a Saturday night TV programme. Think Robin Hood meets Blake’s 7 and you’re just about there.

‘Neon Hallway’ is either a dig at Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen or an homage to the aforementioned M83 minus the rock pyrotechnics. Throughout the album there are hints at a darker side to the bands character, ‘Through Emptiness’ may feel as light as a meringue but fuelled with a Thurston Moore delivery and an unsettling bass line The Cure have made a career perfecting. Any sense of Crayon Soul regurgitating hackneyed summer vibes are dispelled in the 11 minutes it takes to wade waist deep through ‘Branches‘ and ‘Prism‘. Both tracks kick in to the sound of African rhythms before gradually achieving lift off from planet Earth and doing a U-turn somewhere around Saturn before hurtling back to crash-land just outside of Merriweather Post Pavillion. Stunning stuff.

‘Battles’ and ‘Better Better Off’ are great pop tracks, hovering towards OMD at one juncture and Metronomy at another. Then I just confused all over again as ‘Watchmaker’ echoes Everything Everything and the kitchen sink in equal measure including some Adam & The Ants percussion. Oh, and no review would be complete without the mention of some seagulls which introduce ‘We Are Sound’, the only track on Crayon Soul which perhaps warrants an entry into the ‘dream pop’ landfill site. I could happily treble the length of this review and walk you through each track, hand in hand, line by line. But actually, I came to appreciate that Crayon Soul is a voyage of discovery and you really don’t need me to offer up any spoilers.

I stand by my earlier comment, this is an electronic album for the new age. To say it’s varied and experimental would be to do Corbu a disservice, this is a skilfully crafted electro-pop-movie-noir-feelgood-breakup album and we don’t get many of those to the pound. Buy it, wear it, but let it own you. Now, about those seagulls…

Crayon Soul is released on August 5th on 3Beat

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.