30 August 2010

The .Nude Hours - winter and smoke (2010, Paperheart)

Back in the days. I used to listen to Elliot Smith early releases, I'm still in admiration about The Lemonheads circa "It's a shame about Ray" and "Come on Feel", I'm a deep fan of most of Julie Doiron and Pedro The Lion discographies, without mentioning my primacy towards all things slowcore. Speaking of the influences François Milet - The Nude Hours is the solo project of the singer/guitarist of Paperweight - mentions on his myspace it's on the power pop & indie rock side that I follow him less. At least these days, back in the nineties, I was listening to such stuff.

A few songs on this record hit the nostalgia string, with their melancholic subtlety and a sensitive melodic music : "Century", "Amy", "Favourite Dictionary", "Why do we even bother","Streetlight", "Cold Winter Morning"

Others fail to seduce me, probably because they are using musical gimmicks that never really worked on me  : "Still Near", "Reject", "Shallow Creek", "The Best Thing" and "Here by the water"
It think it's this impression to be stuck in time and this feeling of being buttered up that make this album finally relatively uneasy for me and it's almost the same feelings I have these days with Snailhouse records.

I already feel better when I get rid of the five songs I don't like and focus on the six remaining ones. "Century' starts a capella and then a delicate folk guitar completes the intimate frame, not far from the most minimalist side of Julie Doiron, playing around with a feeling of emptiness inducing tension. "Amy" reminds me of Pedro The Lion (the way the drums interact with the guitar and the type of melody), more complex than what it seems at first and perfectly subdued.  "Favourite Dictionary" looks like an ode to Smudge and The Lemonheads, but with an unexpected and welcome softness, slowing things down. The use of strings (violin?) on "Why do we even bother" is a nice reference to its use on Carissa's Weird records and gives light to a moody song, I'm not sure I would like this song without this. "Streeltight" is the perfect moving tearjerker song necessary on all songwriters albums : accomplished mission on this. "Cold Winter Morning" is another convincing exercise de style, bedroom folk rendition of a ... cold winter morning. 

"Winter and Smoke" wins my sympathy but the lack of novelty and these highly nostalgic composites stop me to fall completely under the charm. I guess the use of more instruments and contributors adding tension to the songwriting process is the way to go, maybe The Nude Hours could become a full band without losing its melancholic and intimate qualities. I need the slowness and melancholy of this album but I would request some more core and tension.

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