News of a collaboration between Emmy the Great and Tim Wheeler began to emerge in the summer, which, as we all know, is way too early to even mention Christmas (unless you work in retail). Yet it just so happens to be the right time to record a Christmas album it seems and these two indie darlings have given us their best shot at making an alternative Christmas album. For the traditionalists out there however, I'm sure both Bublé and Bieber have Christmas LPs out for the festive period.
Those familiar with the two artists previous work will not be surprised with the arrangements on the tracks and, with song titles like 'Zombie Christmas,' 'Jesus the Reindeer' and 'Christmas Day (I Wish I Was Surfing)', the two have definitely taken the idea of a Christmas album with a pinch of salt. On 'Christmas Day (I Wish I Was Surfing)', the lead guitar is in typical Ash style and, as expected, Wheeler's vocals accompany the backing in a good style. However, other than the title and the inclusion of the obligatory sleigh bells, it is far from being akin to anything from The Beach Boys' Christmas Album. Those familiar with Reuben's fantastically festive 'Christmas is Awesome' will appreciate the contrast between the rock guitar and jovial lyrics found tracks such as 'Christmas Day.' and 'Marshmallow World', though it is fair to say neither songs are up to the standards of the Reuben track.
"Christmas time is here/I hate this time of year" sings the duo on 'Zombie Christmas,' highlighting the sense of humour the two have about the idea of a festive album, with the playfulness and silliness of the song an indication of just how much fun the two must have had whilst making the album. As with 'Christmas Day.' and album closer 'See You Next Year,' 'Zombie Christmas' shows off the more original parts of the album, with the majority of the album having a more nostalgic feel. 'See You Next Year' does particularly well at showcasing Emmy the Greats usual style, with an 'Easter Parade'-era resonance. The two vocal choices work well too in the more traditional songs, such as the 80s throwback 'Snowflakes,' as much as they do on the more contemporary tracks. Not since her work with Lightspeed Champion has Emmy's backing sounded more at home.
In this day and age, making a cliché-less Christmas anthem is no easy task and a full album must not make things any easier. Obviously, some of the songs sound pastiche at times, with 'Snowflakes' opening with the Wings-esque synths being one such offender. This is the season to be jolly after all and this is something the pair has sack fills of throughout. The album lacks a point in which it loses its seasonal cheer; it's themes ranging from loving, longing and affection at Christmas to a plague of the un-dead at Christmas and isn't that all you can expect from a Christmas album? It is unlikely you will hear one of these tracks played in department stores or supermarkets around the country but it surely deserves to stand along side such contemporaries as 'Fairytale In New York' at future Christmases.