Rose Elinor Dougall | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Rose Elinor Dougall

Polka Dots to Tender Hearts

Jun 04, 2009 Winter 2009 - Anticipated Albums of 2009 Photography by Derrick Santini Bookmark and Share

Milestones in life tend to be linked with their corresponding dates. For Rose Elinor Dougall, July 17, 2006 saw the release of her band The Pipettes’ unforgettable debut. At just 20 years old, Dougall cradled an indie-pop treasure in her hands. We Are the Pipettes recalled singles-oriented ’60s girl groups with stunning grace.

Less than two years later, on May 14, 2008, a MySpace blog heralded the conclusion of the singer/keyboardist’s short-lived tenure with the polka-dotted Brighton, England trio. As soon as May 18th, Dougall set her timer back to zero and began to stream a wave of her own compositions—hazy, introspective, late-night pop tunes such as “Start/Stop/ Synchro,” “Hanging Around,” “Find Me Out,” “May Holiday,” and inaugural single, “Another Version of Pop Song” —through her MySpace page.

The former Pipette assures us that her departure was as cordial as possible, squashing any thoughts of possible scandal. “There’s really not any gossip,” she says. “It came to the end of the line for me. They come to see me play and I come to see them as well. They just started recording [the new Pipettes] album.”

For Dougall’s imminent solo release, the pop singer asserts that fans will be welcomed by a mature debut with all the trappings of a songwriter breaking out of her chrysalis. “This record’s far more personal, and just that will make it completely separate from The Pipettes. I suppose the first single [“Another Version of Pop Song”] is almost like a bridge from my past that leads into my future. It’s one of the more upbeat numbers I’ve written,” she says.

Dougall spent much of 2008 either isolated in her bedroom with a Casiotone or inspecting drunken activities while working as the “grumpiest barmaid ever.” Dougall’s interactions with the patrons even influenced some of the intimate moments on her solo album. “Bars contain all of life within them, all amplified by alcohol,” she recalls. The swirling cascades of art-pop that fluttered from her solo sessions and time with producer Lee Baker expose a tender heart on the other side of the barstools. “There are elements of love, loss, and rejuvenation,” Dougall says. “[This last] year was quite an uncertain time.”

The as-yet-untitled album is being recorded in a piecemeal fashion at Baker’s studio in Brighton. Various overdubs and separate recordings with Dougall’s touring band—younger brother Tom Dougall (guitarist for Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong), Ralegh Long (guitars, mandolin), Alex Craig (drums), and Georgia Lee (bass/backing vocals). The recording will ideally be wrapped by the end of the winter. Dulcimers, harps, Omnichords, and drum machines will be in the final mix, and “Phil Sumner from British Sea Power is playing cornet and I’m bringing in some string players,” Dougall adds.

Dougall hopes her songs’ diarist lyrics and melancholic instrumentation won’t rub listeners the wrong way. “I never wanted anyone to think this album was the impetus for [me] emoting until it became really revolting,” she laughs. “Songwriters like Joni Mitchell or Cocteau Twins have managed to find a way to convey that their music is vital but their feelings aren’t an overriding thing where you can no longer engage on your own terms with the songs. That’s something I’ve always wanted to achieve.” (


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September 20th 2010

Nice Dress…

January 10th 2011

Watching. Anchoring the whole thing is Rose Elinor Dougall’s extraordinary voice, an instrument that naturally settles in the lower register and succeeds in wringing emotion out of even the most banal of lyrics. It’s not all perfect – the album sags briefly during the final third – but Without Why is a rewarding, expertly crafted collection of sophisticated pop. “Rolex Submariner