Wednesday 16 January 2013

The Girl With The Replaceable Head - Evil Debt Hotel

Album review by

What do you think of when you hear the word "folk" in relation to music? It could be the pop-disguised-behind-banjos of Mumford & Sons and their ilk, it could be the hippyish musings of Donovan and co. or the more authentic but equally of-its-time sounds of Pentangle or Fairport Convention, it could be the traditional warm ale and knitwear sound of rural Britain and it could just be any idiot with an acoustic guitar (yes we mean Jack Johnson, Newton Faulkner and other such atrocities). As far as Gateshead's The Girl With The Replaceable Head (is that like a female Lego man?) is concerned it's most of the above, minus the last one.

This isn't the first outing for the girl with an apparent taste for booze and Phil Spector (we're in love with her already) and this shows in the depth and diversity of the songwriting. It should be pointed out that while the name hints at a solo artist, the project is (yet another!) husband and wife duo. There are acoustics and electrics mixed from the off. The excellent 'Touch Of Evil' sounds incredibly familiar but we can't quite place what it's reminiscent of. We get folk-rock on 'Heartbreak Hotel' (not the Elvis tune) which is a particular highlight; trad-folk appears on the spooky 'Kiss The King', a song that could be as old as the hills. 'Coldest Of Days' makes no attempt to hide the fact that it's a re-write of 'Scarborough Fair'.

Other tracks present an equally glum picture; 'That Debt's Been Wiped' doesn't sound like a barrel of laughs; storm clouds gather at the start of the end-of-the-pier horror-show music of '2nd Hand Face' but it is quite upbeat with it; 'All In His Eyes' seems more modern, and is partly sung in French; it's unhappy but doesn't bring you down. Even more modern is 'Lipstick' which includes an answerphone message and is as close as they come to indiepop. The bleak 'Monday Comes' is where medieval meets the 1960s and 'Bad Dreams' is lighter than you'd expect and a fitting finale. This is a quite desolate album on the whole, yet it doesn't feel in anyway depressing or even particularly downcast. We're left to conclude that The Girl With The Replaceable Head are so called because of the different moods, music and personas they switch between on 'Evil Debt Hotel'. Or maybe they just wanted a silly name...

The Girl With The Replaceable Head's website

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