Real-Time Review: The Correspondents-Puppet Loosely Strung

by thethreepennyguignol

What Did I Do: Hurrah, and welcome to the exceptional Correspondent’s long-awaited debut album. The normally playful duo kick off proceedings with a slow number; I’ve always believed that behind the dandy exterior, Ian Bruce was hiding some serious talent and here I’m vindicated with style. A rhythmically dissonant number, it’s a mournful and powerful ballad filled with acres of vocal and lyrical dexterity that justifies the whole albums existence in just over three minutes.

Fear and Delight: By far my favorite of the singles, track two kicks things up into familiar territory. Tapping into their well-honed electro-swing skillset,  Fear and Delight presents a filthy, twisted ballad that starts off neat and tight intro that descends into a sultry, screwy bass bridge. Heaven, in the form of the circle of hell reserved for lust.

Give You Better: Swiftly turning into my top album track, Give You Better acts as a harder, darker coin-flip to the previous forbidden-love number. Built around an awesomely catchy chorus, it’s surprisingly accessible and recognizable as pop while still retaining The Correspondents distinctive stamp all over it.

Kind of Love: With an impressive three songs under their belt already, Kind of Love revels in a long, intricate instrumental intro that combines scratchy synth with a stripped-back swing backdrop. A surprisingly subdued Ian Bruce takes a back seat with some excellent lyrics to let us get a closer look at the overlong but interesting piece.

In the Meantime: A quick, sweet instrumental piece that’s still got cool tattooed into it’s DNA, it’s kind of forgettable but another interesting foray into the kind of musical experimentation these fellows seem to adore.

Devil’s Lighthouse: Sounding half like a reject from an experimental Franz Ferdinand album that never made it to press, mostly thanks to Ian Bruce’s charismatic lead, Devil’s Lighthouse sets itself somewhere between a whimsical love ballad and a stalker’s anthem. I like it, simply- it’s got a real rise and fall to it that fills it’s five minute run time comfortably, while reclaiming some of the dancey pulse they’d lost in the last couple of numbers. Lyrics are superb, too.

Well-Measured Vice: Well, who don’t like a Correspondent’s single? No-one I hold dear, anyway, and this pretty much proves why. A deceptively intricate ode to dirty secrets, every beat sounds like a wink and every recurrence of the chorus just lodges it further into my head. 

The Last Time: Picking up the laid-back pace, The Last Time is definitely the most electronic song in the album, a wub-heavy gloss of yearning love and other lyrics that are delivered just too damn fast in that distinctive melodic-rap to actually make out.

Back Again: This stands as one of my least favourite songs I’ve heard by The Correspondents, but I couldn’t tell you why. All the elements are there-soft, erratic vocals, the all-over-the-place beat, the clever lyrics, and the solid build-up and pay-off-but it doesn’t totally work for me. The hook isn’t there, for sure, and it feels dragged out to fit a four minute run-time before the album enters it’s final assault.

Puppet Loosely Strung: The complete opposite of the last song, I utterly adore the title track and can’t quite justify it either. It’s wonderful to hear Ian Bruce delivering some of his best lyrics with such preciseness and such confidence, and it’s here we find the centrepeice of the album-almost eye-rollingly clever, full of dirty percussion and impressive if sparse synth work, it’s full of real, genuine emotion and a little bit of smugness, because they’ve earned it.

Alarm Call: The final single from the album was an odd choice for a single, but made sense insofar as it introduced the darker, wilder sound us lot had never heard from this lot before. Bruce nails it with the spiky delivery, painfully pulling together the themes of madness and alienation that dominate the album (usually with a lot more farce than this, to be fair). The song itself is a grower-the more you take it apart the better it becomes. Very, very nearly perfect.

Some Nights: Not a cover of the famous Fun number that I assume had just passed by everyone on the production team completely, Some Nights rounds things up with some toothy closing credits. Undercutting the saccharine with some bittersweet balladry, it smacks of the wit, pulsing beats and awesome delivery that have characteristed this rather triumphant debut.


Best Tracks: Alarm Call, Some Nights, Give You Better

Worst Tracks: Back Again, In The Meantime

In a Sentence: The beginnings of a gleaming crown for the ever-fascinating Correspondents.

Rating: 8.5/10