Review of Gotye's album 'Like Drawing Blood'
Often a record comes to you with some blurb from a PR agency that draws stylistic comparisons to artists that they've seemingly picked at random, the only common denominator usually being how well known those artists are or were.
Here they're made between Gotye (Pronounced as per the gallic fashionista) and the "Sample style reappropriation" of the Avalanches. Bzzzzzzz! Wrong. Shamefully so. Eight years may have elapsed since the antipodean DJ collective released their debut album Since I Left You, but whereas that was a record assembled entirely from samples (Over three and a half thousand in fact), Like Drawing Blood is a bunch of de-facto songs which have snippets of other people's records in them. There is one similarity - both are currently based in Australia. More importantly for the artist (Real name Wouter Debacker) this lazy stereotyping will probably mislead any floating potential listeners, when in fact there's much here to get interested in.
If anything, Like Drawing Blood has much of the neo soul hallmarks of Mark Rons - hey, come back here now - particularly on the glorious throwback single Learninglivinlovin, a song so full of classic-era Motown references that you can see the little pinpricks of sweat beginning to break out on Duffy's forehead. It's a theme also pervading the reedy sampled keys and cardboardy flatness of The Only Way and Coming Back, but the much of the rest is idiosyncratic enough to defy pigeonholing.
If for instance your idea of soul music doesn't begin and end with Can't Hurry Love period Phil Collins, you'll be rewarded by the depth of Heart's A Mess, a sparsely measured lament that broods with a creeping tension and words of cracked vulnerability, sounding like blink-and-you-missed them duo Grand National at their scratchy, alt.popped-out best.
There's also plenty of genre pick and mix to keep things interesting; Puzzle With a Piece Missing's warm Jamaican ebb comes via loading up on ska horns and wheezing retro organ, whilst instrumental A Distinctive Sound is bleepy dub tempo adventure based around a crazy Georgian reel that comes as an influence courtesy of the singer's parents. Sometimes the cocktails are too eclectic, as on Thanks For Your Time, an incongruous sub r'n'b plod seemingly based around a transcription of a call to the local council. Seven Hours With a Backseat Driver is a meandering David Holmes style piece of cinematic noir which smoulders without ever lighting up.
Originally released in 2006, a wise ear has clearly decided that the time is probably right for Like Drawing Blood; now the world of Aretha, Otis and James has been de-sinewed and condensed into monchrome pastiche for our tender palettes, the Winehouse faux nostalgia dollar is undeniably a huge one. You suspect that this kind of piggyback marketing may go against the singer's principles, but you know those PR guys, they never listen. To anything.