As gaps go between albums, seven years may seem a little long. 'Without Why', Dougall's debut solo album, was released back in 2010. It was a confident record that contained some great songs including 'Find Me Out', 'Third Attempt' and the semi-Baroque brilliance of Stop/Start/Synchro. 'Without Why' captured Rose's spirit and determination to make a fresh and individual start after her departure from her previous group The Pipettes. Fast forward to her new record, 'Stellular', and it's almost like she's trying to make that fresh start all over again but for slightly differing reasons.
It's not as if Rose has been slacking in the interim years, far from it, she has been performing and touring for years with Mark Ronson as part of his band. 'Stellular' however arrives with almost surprising resignation to Dougall, "I've had to accept it's (Music) what I'm good at." she says. I think we all knew that so it's possibly a little curious to those who've liked her music that Rose would come to that conclusion this late on in her journey.
Having recently turned thirty she's not only got many more years of experience to reflect on but also an audible maturity and, it would now seem, faith in her own ability that clearly filters through on the new album. There is no nervous naivety; more an evident self-belief, polish and coherence to her work than ever before. The twelve new tracks on her latest, long awaited, album are without doubt a refreshing 'come-back' for Rose Elinor Dougall. She has a voice that needs to be heard and songs that deserve a wider audience.
'Stellular' is full of life, full of vibrancy and is bursting with a vitality that makes it such a great listen and a terrific counter to the mundanities of everyday life. Not wishing to sound like a commercial for a new course of vitamin supplements, but, this record does lift your spirits and helps you suspend reality. There is a skip in the beat and a mesmerising wash of electro flourishes to accompany Dougall's ever floral vocal. It's by no means light, fluffy or throw-away and the lyrical content is sometimes, pleasurably, at odds with the context in which it is presented.
'Colour Of Water' opens the set list with a fabulous mix of revolving guitar notes and whirring keys before the truly beguiling vocal of Rose Elinor Dougall kicks in. Rose's voice has lost none of its immense charm or individuality and has, if anything, gotten even smoother and more soulful. The early promise ushered in doesn't disappoint as the album progresses. The dozen new songs are packed with content and laden with lush soundscapes throughout. The beats are tight, the guitars superbly balanced in each of the arrangements and the keyboards are a retro-leaning delight.
The first single off the album of the same name, 'Stellular', captures the spirit and essence of it all with its upbeat tempo and cleverly worked production and deft arrangement. Rose's vocal swings its way through the song as she is carried on a wave a synth strings and electro enhanced beats. This is Rose at her best, producing a blend of infectious quality pop that's futile to give in to. And, she's lost none of her lyrical dexterity either.... "Try to see through a miasma of tears, you'd lose yourself if someone tells you what you want to hear."
There is a brooding contemplative reflection on the harmonious, 'Hell And Back', a great rumbling bass beat to accompany the dueted (Oli Bayston/Boxed In) 'Dive' and pure unapologetic pop on both 'Poison Ivy' and the most immediate, overtly commercial of tracks, 'Closer'. As the album draws to a close Rose Elinor saves a few more gems before she signs off. With a refined elegance and musical grace she delivers two of her best tracks. 'Space To Be' showcases Rose's vocal perfectly. With an eloquence and elocution second to none Dougall shines and soars over strings and keys declaring "I want a love to lift me up high, to wreak havoc on this heart of mine, tear me limb from limb until I find some space to be me." The finale, 'Wanderer', slows down the pace as Rose delivers a truly beautiful ballad in her own inimitable style. The arrangement is sumptuous and her voice is just glorious against the piano, snare and guitar.
'Stellular' is the musical equivalent of opening the curtains to let in the early morning sunshine; a joyous fillip packed full of musical deliciousness. Hopefully the time we have to wait between this one and its successor will not be anywhere near as long.
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