Moulettes, The Bear’s Revenge, Balling the Jack Records, 25 June 2012 (single ‘Sing Unto Me’ out 28 May)
What is a moulette anyway? A tasty portion of something from the sea that you might devour with pomme frites and a crisp beer? A light savoury snacklette? A thing decidedly gastronomique and continental? Well. No. Actually. Light they are and yes, you might well savour their exotic flavours. Salty? Indeed! But a snack? No. Moulettes are, as they self-refer, a prog-folk band who have created a lip-smacking album ahead of a (probably) delightful gig at London’s Bush Hall (31 May). The album, The Bear’s Revenge, is substantial storytelling, so substantial that the girls are wonder if it is in fact a little over-long.
‘Sing Unto Me’ will be the first single from The Bear’s Revenge. It is enchanting. Hannah Miller’s voice trips along the melody – like a pebble skipping water – with a tone that recalls Sandy Denny’s vocal on Fairport Convention’s ‘Tam Lin’. The songs rush one into another breathlessly. It’s like a bedtime story being wound around like a ball of yarn. Lyrics like “Your destiny/ entrusted you to me” whirl past, there’s a waltz here, a jig there, blue notes, fiddlers on rooftops. There’s a sense of a fables being created, perhaps because of the lyrical direction: phrases such as “will you be a true love of mine” reference older songs like ‘Scarborough Fair’.
Core Moulette Hannah Miller is apparently working on an illustrated book that will accompany the stories on The Bear’s Revenge, but for the moment the listener must try and catch the meaning of the songs as they float past on gossamer streamers. Not every song on this record is performed at a gallop. ‘Some Who You Love’ tiptoes through plucked strings and a wistful rhythm. ‘Muse Has Wings’ comes with a country music sensibility in a folk arrangement. It’s on ‘Circle Song’ that Moulettes really show their mettle, with a modern traditional mashup redolent of Joanna Newsom. Speaking of whom, could the titular bear having its revenge in this album possibly be Newsom’s abused Ursula? We’re left to decide for ourselves as ‘Revenge of the Bear’, a track seeming to promise answers, is two minutes of dramatic instrumental.
The Bear’s Revenge is an album that promises an intense, heady and beautiful live show, but on record it could do with an occasional piece of gristle to temper its delicacy.
Have you seen Moulettes live? Does their show live up to the expectations they build on record? Let the girls are know what you think.