Perfect Pop Records

Perfect Pop Records

POP61 – This Is Fake DIY

Je Suis Animal – Self Taught Magic From A Book

By Lee White

Upon first listening we heard a lot of ace ‘80s indie types The Sundays in this, the debut from Norwegians Je Suis Animal. Certainly the guitars often jangle and the vocals appear to owe some debt to Harriet Wheeler, however the dreamy distorted pop soundscapes are more than just a two dimensional copy of indie-pop from a previous decade. ‘Self Taught Magic From A Book’ is peppered with interesting instruments and bursts of brass, giving it a more full and rounded sound, drawing comparisons to The Concretes.

Opener ‘Secret Place’ is the most obvious example of Je Suis Animal’s shoegazey style, where everything bar the vocals is covered in a delightful layer of fuzz, whilst some keyboards twinkle on the periphery of hearing. The song’s kept short and sweet, but they still find space to fit in a rather noisy guitar bridge. Track two is ‘The Mystery Of Marie Roget’ which is somewhat more accessible than it’s predecessor; pure C86 with an “it never came back” refrain and a keyboard that sounds more like a clarinet.

The album covers 13 tracks but many more ideas, sometimes there’s too much thrown at the wall (the medieval feel of ‘Beginning Of Time’ is just plain odd) but elements are rarely repeated and there’s very much the feel of a band stretching their creative legs. The distortion and feedback that’s often present on the guitars will be somewhat off-putting and piercing to some, but that the surface needs to be more than scraped to hear the beauty of the melodies underneath is where a sizeable slice of this albums charm lies and there’s a lot of pleasure to be gained from this.

‘Indifferent Boy’ and ‘Hotel Electique’ see the band teasing these melodies out, stretching them into something completely different before brining them back to a fitting and often rather brilliant climax. The occasional problem with ‘Self Taught Magic…’ is that Je Suis Animal don’t seem to know how to leave a pop song well alone, ‘Rousseau World’ is the closest they get. Far too often the guitars are cranked up when the song would have benefited from calmer moments, ‘It’s Love’ is also exacerbated by the unnecessary and slightly tuneless brass interlude.

For it’s problems though Je Suis Animal aren’t going for accessibility here and people wanting a return to the sounds of old style indie-pop will not look past the flaws as much as cherish them. With justice this record will find those fans who it’s quiet clearly made for. For the rest of us it is, in places, a welcome diversion.


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