The Orielles


Disclaimer: yesterday I hit myself on the head embarrassingly forcefully. With that mild concussion in mind, I’ll be keeping this brief.

The album sleeve for The OriellesSilver Dollar Moment is smears and dabs of bright colours. For myself, and maybe others, the record came along without warning. From nowhere, the chimes of their three-piece sprung through the radio. This is factually incorrect and totally subjective: they’d already been doing bits before then. I discover they’ve previously released music on Art is Hard Records, who’ve released music by other artists I enjoy such as Trust Fund, Joanna Gruesome and Abattoir Blues. Listening to more, The Orielles boast the bolsh and swirls of fine DIY pop. As I’ve been trying to describe their genre to people in recent conversations, I’ve emphasised this quality, even if they’ve been labelled indie or garage rock elsewhere and do carry some sultry and psych vibes in places. Hearing them for the first time felt to me like welcome newness, fun song structures and trivialities in their lyrics and certainly not – as pop can be unfairly considered – boringly formulaic.

One third of the band, the furthest away from me, looks as though he is in IKEA uniform in a yellow and blue striped top. Later I realise this isn’t quite right and is the product of the distorting stage lights, but at first glance it looks like guitarist Henry Carlyle Wade has leapt from the album colour palette. They open with ‘Old Stuff, New Glass’ and ‘Snaps’, which buffer Silver Dollar Moment’s opening and ending, as the second and penultimate songs respectively. ‘Old Stuff, New Glass’ in particular already feels to me like the band’s trademark. The cowbell is jolly and lovely hoos and coos on the mic run alongside the gently moving main vocals, though the vocal mix doesn’t seem quite right, even if the overall singing on the album is quite pared back or affected.

Three songs in, they play album opener ‘Mango’, with CW waving his head side to side in semicircles. He’s the only one who’s conversed with us so far. Bass player Esmé Dee Hand-Halford has led the singing, collected and without interrupting the set to chat. Five songs in is ‘I Only Bought It For The Bottle’, a song that’s been doing the rounds with aplomb. At the simplest interpretation it’s a don’t-judge-a-book-by-its-cover story, although having read interviews with the band, its influence as with many of their other songs is rooted in cinema. I enjoy the criteria-cum-dilemma posed, “what I need is something nice and refreshing/or something cheap”, and that the first few lines slip from “want” into “need”, along with the entirely imaginable crayon-drawn, Hockney-style label. CW bobs and pulls various gestures, and there’s a lovely little exchange between guitarist and bassist on cowbell and whistle respectively.

“We’ve reached halfway through the set,” CW tells us, “that’s a milestone”. Some people ask for the mics to be turned up, confirming that someone else shared my observation and that my sore head was not also altering my listening skills. It seems to get lost in translation, and after the comments CW quips to laughter: “weird – turn it all up.”

The Orielles

As if to mark the second half of the performance, the mood now turns to smaltz, a bit yachty from the guitar and a bit hotel lift from the newly added keys. There’s a nicely measured groove across the (now four) players on stage in ‘Liminal Spaces’, followed in album order by the instrumental ‘The Sound of Liminal Spaces’. ‘Let Your Dogtooth Grow’ is catchy and ekes out a singalong from the audience. The title I believe is a reference to Yorgos Lanthimos’ film Dogtooth. Since learning this, every time I listen to the song I think to watch it, though every time I’m not listening I forget. ‘Sunflower Seeds’ brings in the ordinariness of eating, delivered in short lines full with rhyme, the chorus speeding up slightly between the lilting verses.

They end on ‘Blue Suitcase (Disco Wrist)’ and its specks of disco rhythm make for a danceable finish, before encoring with ‘Sugar Tastes Like Salt’. One of their longer songs, there’s plenty of time for the structure to climax and ooze with something anticipatory. The guitars duel up against each other and the drums come to full max; the tempo ups, relents and ups again, and people come forward as the lights flash fast, the purple reminding me of its track artwork (it’s the only song in the set that’s not from the debut album). It’s pretty sublime and everyone becomes rapturous at the end.

I enjoy music peppered with the daily everythings and nothing, and with the rise of those like Courtney Barnett over the last few years it seems that simple, vaguely relatable content without cliché from start to finish has a current wide appeal. By the same token it would be wrong to say that the writing is not informed by a motley set of topics, and it’s worth reading interviews if you want to hear these discussed in the band’s own words. The lyrical content feels composed of the conversational blends that each given friendship group is privy to, with doses of pop culture and confession (even if fairly light, as with ‘Bottle’), where one reference instantly fires off another because you’ve shared particular thoughts or opinions with the company before. I wished to refrain from noting that they are all younger than me, and I am certainly a spring chicken (my adult canines are yet to grow, no word of a lie). Most interviews and album reviews I’ve read hang on their age almost for shock factor, as I noticed with Manchester artist Kiran Leonard. But watching them I should be jealous that they’ve assembled something so replete with hookiness, that feels well thought out, varied and unexpectedly accomplished.

NB: On reflection I feel I’ve unfairly left out comment on the drummer/ing, Sidonie B Hand-Halford, mainly owing to where I was standing, my state of mind and my broad lack of knowledge about drums. However, the beat was tight, her hair was ace and surely the music would have fallen apart without doing her third/quarter of the instrumentation so well.

The Orielles: Official | Facebook | Twitter

Hannah Ross

Hummer and strummer with Kurt Vile hair. Likes neo-soul, reverb, and most things put out by Beggars. Will review for money and/or free tickets + exciting new music.