Oosterdok: Twilights of the Weary Soul
Brown House

While some listeners and writers will draw parallels between Oosterdok and Ladytron, Depeche Mode, and other electronic acts, Becky Naylor and Jay Line more accurately resurrect the progressive-folk tradition associated with earlier groups like Renaissance and Gentle Giant (specifically, the former's Turn of the Cards and Scheherazade and Other Stories and the latter's Octopus and The Power and the Glory). One hears traces of Annie Haslam's ethereal, classically-flavoured voice in Naylor's singing during the string-heavy “Elysium” and Gentle Giant's penchant for compositional intricacy in “Falling Sand.” Put bluntly, Oosterdok's electro-folk madrigals have little in common with the music of The Human League and Joy Division.

Twilights of the Weary Soul is darker than the group's debut EP Some Day We Will Part Forever, and expands its stylistic range too. The group's stab at Electro-Goth (“I Am Not a Nice Girl”) impresses sonically with a compelling arrangement of synth burble and string shudders but is less convincing vocally, as Naylor's vitriol (“Life's a bitch and so am I, a real shit / Don't take it personally”) sounds more mannered than authentic. “Be Careful” returns the pair to a dramatic electro-pop style better suited to its talents while the melancholy waltz “Falling Sand” exudes an understated majesty bolstered by an affecting weave of vocal counterpoint. Naylor and Line are 21st century raconteurs (acknowledging as much with lyrics like “Until the moment when my heart awakes and a story begins / I'll keep my love safe within”) who exploit contemporary production methodologies to re-animate the glorious sounds of prog. The new EP further whets one's appetite for a future full-length from the duo.

November 2005