Having successfully managed to squeeze herself from the creative, creditable but ultimately underappreciated constraints of The Pipettes, Brighton Etch-A-Sketch expert Rose Elinor Dougall releases her debut solo album, 'Without Why'. 24 year old Dougall has taken the solo route to showcase her brand of edgy power pop, and with terrific results.
The new album contains four of her previous singles together with seven other fascinating compositions. Her second single Start/Stop/Synchro is the lead off track on Without Why. The mock-baroque keyboards, tripping bass lines and heightened vocals dress up the song with a lighter air to camouflage the mood within the lyric...."As I sit and watch the lovers kissing in the darkened corners, I think I was once beautiful to you.....We can't escape the fact that I will never be her."
The Felt like guitars joyously wash over 'Come Away With Me' on track #2 followed by the Cocteau flavoured 'Find Me Out'. The 4th of her single releases FMO is a torch song with a very sad sense of realisation. The more you dwell on the lyrical content of the album you can't help but feel that Miss Dougall may have had more than her fair share of troubled relationships.
"My liver, my lungs, my arteries
and my cerebral faculties are overloaded.
I know you see the best in me,
But darling there's not much left of it."
The deep depth of the bass set against the church organ lead intro on Third Attempt pair the mood and the music as your ears are more programmed to receive them. The atmosphere created by the instrumentation and arrangement doesn't set you up for misinterpretation or re-evaluation, as is the case with many of Rose Elinor Dougalls songs. 'Carry On' ups the beat with its frenzied indie guitars and bouncy bass line.
Next up, the catchy Casio loops, hand clap percussive treatments and unravelling story line are what makes 'Another Version Of Pop Song', her debut 7", so good. After what has gone before the expectant tragic ending to the tale never quite manifests itself, but given a few more verses you can only imagine. On the slower and darker 'Watching' the near sinister violin notes are complimented wonderfully with brushed drum work and shuddering cymbals, drawing comparisons to fellow Brightonian Natasha Khan.
'To The Sea' has more Felt references to help the tune glide along blissfully whilst reflecting on more wounded heart contemplations....."Oh to love someone, to really love someone, makes one solitary." 'Fallen Over' touches on Sleeper, musically and characteristically, Rose having that matter of fact, knowing glint in her eye, and turn of phrase in her lyric that suggests a rather dry, and slightly wicked, sense of humour. 'Goodnight' and 'May Holiday' close off Without Why with a suitable farewell flourish. The paired back piano and vocal on the former highlighting her emotive range and the subtle string arrangements on the latter adding to the diversity of song writing and arrangements on the album.
Without Why is an accomplished debut solo album from Rose Elinor Dougall. The perky disposition on many of the tunes disguise an underlying theme of regret, resignation, betrayal and bitterness. The lyrics are both contemplative and insightful, laying bare the emotional torment suffered in the young performers life. There are stories and tales told and encapsulated very eloquently to some great sound tracks. You fear that if this body of words were studied on health grounds that it may be open to over dramatic conclusions such is the power of the lyrics. There are some genuinely sad episodes being captured here, and if they are all first hand you have to feel for Rose, but we should also be very grateful that she has chosen to share those moments with us here. A girl who definitely shouldn't be interrupted.