Rose Elinor Dougall

Stellular

Vermilion

Jan 23, 2017 Issue # 59 - 15th Anniversary Bookmark and Share


Stellular, the sophomore album by former Pipettes singer and Mark Ronson-collaborator Rose Elinor Dougall, comes a full seven years after her solo debut, Without Why. Her first full-length was a musical grab-bag of pop styles from jazz-inflected and somber shoegazing post-punk to synth-pop and the stark, guitar-driven drama of "Come Away With Me." What marks any Dougall release, of course, is that voice; affective, adaptable, and always shooting straight at the heart.

Stellular opens with "Colour of Water," a guitar-and-bass driven shimmering slice of dream-rock, with lashings of atmospheric keyboards. Dougall's voice is on top form, shading emotions at the flick of a switch and veering this way and that with panache. It's all warm reds and cool blues and leads straight into the rippling, swirling, "Strange Warnings," a start-stop, quiet-loud four-minute wonder wrapped in a glittering bow.

The title track is a bouncy shabby-chic classic, a brightly-colored flower-bed in a run-down tenement window, a late-night costume party spilling out into the alleyways. "Closer" is a sing-a-long gem, "Take Yourself With You" shines like a autumn sunset, while "All At Once" stomps and struts across the dance-floor. "Answer Me" is a comparatively straightforward almost-ballad with a soul sheen. "Dive," a duet with Boxed In, forlornly prowls the streets in search of lost rainbows.

The final third proves particularly strong. The fairy-tale piano, synth chords and shuffling drums of "Poison Ivy" lead us into a dangerous maze of wonder and danger. "Hell and Back" walks a razor tightrope beneath a Turner sky. "Space to Be" echoes and surges and quivers, while "Wanderer" provides a fitting end, bringing together blocks of piano, bright guitars, and possibly the most effective vocal on the album.

Stellular brings to mind Propaganda and Wire, with an '80s street-sensibility under stylish charity-shop mix-and-match clothing. Its greatest strength is that it feels effortless, moving from sleek disco to dark-hued punk and beyond without ever missing a step or losing its charm. (www.facebook.com/roseelinordougall)

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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jenwalk
January 24th 2017
10:50am

No, it’s just boring, there is nothing “The Wire” like about her. No one cares about Mark Ronson’s silver spooned pals.