Woman's Hour - 'Conversations' - Cover- 2014

WOMAN’S HOURConversations

01. Unbroken Sequence
02. Conversations
03. To The End
94. Darkest Place
05. In Stillness We Remain
06. Our Love Has No Rhythm
07. Her Ghost
08. Two Sides of You
09. Devotion
10. Reflections
11. The Day That Needs Defending

London-based dream-pop sweethearts WOMAN’S HOUR are charting the sea to success with their new LP Conversations. After garnering a smattering of critical attention from their last release Jenni/Human (Hype Machine, for example, listed them as the sixth most blogged-about band of 2013), this record is rimmed with expectation – and rightly so.

Delightfully simple and assuming from the outset, Conversations is a melancholic exploration of delicacy. Largely a quiet but intimate dialogue between Fiona Burgess’ breathy vocals and layers of smooth synthesiser, the immediate impression of the sound is its daydreamy nature; cloud-like, each track blowing by in a wisp, buffeting and billowing about one another between soft moments of silence.

The album opens with Unbroken Sequence, an interchange between sad, sigh-laden vocal and a rise and fall in pace that accurately foreshadows the remainder of the record.

Hints of eighties pop glimmer through Conversations at welcome moments, like clouds breaking to filter the sunshine. A fast-paced bass line, for example, shadows behind the title-track. ‘‘Conversations we have with ourselves, that we won’t share with anyone else/ awkward moments of affection, that could have been shared with someone else’, sings Burgess in her sweet, syrupy voice.

To The End is, rightly enough, a barely-there creeper of a track that conjures up images of heavy eyelids and slightly wilted make-up, the slow buzz of a living room at 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning as sunrise sneaks through the blinds. It plods along, interspersed with crooning; sultry and self-assured.

In Stillness We Remain is coy, vocals lilting softly. I will be your shadow, sings Burgess in a lovelorn, slightly smitten manner. The track ends in a soaring circle of sighs, ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’ into the fade. The next track, Our Love Has No Rhythm eases itself in with icy, flat synthesiser that soon gives way to a steady bass beat, lick after lick slowly filtering in to build up to a steady but richly layered sound. ‘No rhythm, no, our love has no rhythm’ is the only lyric, swanning in and out about their signature sighs. The rhythm is simple, yes, but it’s definitely there – and provides one of the album highlights.

Her Ghost, jumping straight in with a more upbeat, handclap-peppered intro, is a welcome shake-up of the woozy pace. Again, the lyrics are sugar sweet. ‘Take your words and put them in my mouth’, sings Burgess, as syrupy as ever. Final track, The Day That Needs Defending, is a wonderful exercise in tension, building slowly from a silent base to a catchy pop hook.

WOMAN’S HOUR have a steady string of dates to play this summer, both in Europe and the US, including notable festivals such as Latitude, Tramlines and Bestival. While Conversations is deliciously smooth, it will be a treat to see energy breathed into the tracks at the live shows. With Burgess’ slightly ethereal vocals guiding the way, their performances are sure to be a treat.

Conversations’ by WOMAN’S HOUR is a commendable achievement in cloudscapes, daydreams and dimly-lit nights. Its delicacy promises dreamy summertime listening, however, some listeners may find themselves craving just a little more thunder.

NBHAP Rating: 3/5