This six-track mini-album is touched by darkness – it’s distorted, unsettling, untrustworthy almost, like a creepy character lurking in the shadows. But its nooks and crannies reveal weird and wonderful delights at every turn.
There’s an air of Richard Hawley in opener ‘Come Into My Dreamland’, with its echoing piano, haunting choral and theremin – a siren luring you into something a little sinister, but oh so lovely. You’d willingly go.
The title track is just as menacing, with its unsettling Mexican circus interlude, distant snare and Eels-like bridge. Even Ed’s vocals have a demonic quality to them beneath his beautiful breathiness.
There’s a change of pace with ‘The Saddest Orchestra’ – an epic, heart-breaking tune that makes you weep for the poor soul being stalked by this musical gathering. There’s layer upon layer of anguish, from the huge percussion and cascading piano, backing vocals carried on the wind, a tinkle of a xylophone and a melody that builds into an operatic wonder. It’s truly sublime.
‘We All Went Down With The Ship’ is more classic Harcourt, but continuing this set’s darker theme. A U-boat ping is an intricate detail that lifts this track out of the waves, cutting through a cacophony of percussion and an eerie, childlike round robin.
The brilliant Kathryn Williams makes an appearance on ‘Parliament Of Rooks’, a spooky, yet pretty number with a backing addition from Harry Potter’s Death Eaters and vocals like gasps of breath. Its climax is both enchanting and terrifying.
We end with ‘Love Is A Minor Key’, and it’s lovely. The darkness subsides to make way for sheer sadness, yet it’s strangely euphoric. Ed’s voice is at its finest – effortless and addictive. It makes you want to listen to this gem all over again.
Words: Gemma Hampson
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