Monday, December 1, 2008

Politely Ornate: The Melting Ice Caps

Luxembourg was an English indie band that lasted from 2001 to early this year, and I wish I had been aware of them before their split. They had the melodrama and vocal warble of Roxy Music paired with witty lyrics worthy of Jarvis Cocker, but after only officially releasing one album and before the second album was completely finished, they disbanded. However, lead singer David Shah went on to create a solo project called The Melting Ice Caps, an equally offbeat, but achingly genuine affair with an operatic, literate flair akin to The Divine Comedy. Thus far, The Melting Ice Caps have released two official singles: the double A-side for Hard to Get and Don't Say a Word, and Selfish Bachelor with its B-side How to Appear Well-Adjusted. In addition to these, two tracks, namely I Wanted to Be Your Boyfriend and If I Should Ever Lose, are also up to stream from the MySpace page. There's something theatrical and gentlemanly about these songs - despite their electropop flourishes, it's as though they would sound perfect from a phonograph that sits on a table by an art deco wrought iron balcony that overlooks a verdant park full of people on pennyfarthings. These songs are quietly stylish. These songs are politely ornate.

Hard to Get is a wonderful bitter ballad that bears throat-catching similarities to Soft Cell's Say Hello, Wave Goodbye. Don't Say a Word is a beautifully verbose plea for a lover's reciprocation, utilizing some of the most evocative words in the English language in the process. Selfish Bachelor begins with listing all the things the narrator doesn't have, a list which seems to imprison him more than all the freedom he purportedly has. Its music is melancholy but passionately romantic, fitting seamlessly with the brilliant line "I do know love like I know being alone." How to Appear Well-Adjusted is a plonking, knocking vaudeville track that recalls the wry humour found in several Luxembourg tracks, including advice like "Gentlemen should keep their stubble short/And so should ladies." Shah muses over how one can show oneself as "normal" and uses a list of what at first seems like an archaic etiquette manual; then he mentions the 21st century faux-pas of posting an angry blog or sending an email without thinking, which feels both delightfully familiar and anachronistic. I Wanted to Be Your Boyfriend is the most synthpoppy of all the songs so far, but it lacks the pumping beat that would push it into dancefloor territory; instead, this song floats along like a spring breeze. In contrast, If I Should Ever Lose is a violin-based track with Shah's vocals at their most mournful, demonstrating that Shah has several facets yet to explore to their fullest.

I eagerly await further material and hopefully a full album in the near future. The narrators of these songs are lovelorn, but though they may be as doomed and fragile as ice floes in warm seas, they will take out clean handkerchiefs and ask for your pardon over the mess.

The Melting Ice Caps MySpace:

How to Appear Well-Adjusted - The Melting Ice Caps

Hard to Get - The Melting Ice Caps

We Only Stayed Together For the Kids - Luxembourg


bloodflowerbill said...

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