A debut album so breathtakingly beautiful it begs a speedy reunion.
Jen Long 2011
Deciding to put an end to your band is surely a sad and brave move for many an act. But it’s a confusing – if not ill-advised – move to do so at the gig where you launch your debut album. Nevertheless, it’s the choice London four-piece Stricken City made with heavy hearts on 10 February 2011. What they leave in their wake, however, is a debut album so breathtakingly beautiful it begs a speedy reunion.
After over four years together the band has decided to self-release their album digitally. Yet Losing Colour doesn’t have the feel of a single-statement record; more as a collection of past efforts, and a starting point for future endeavours.
Opening with a swirling fanfare of sax and soaring vocals, it breaks into the thud of perfect pop with a near-Scandinavian sensibility; the song Some Say could easily be mistaken for a Lykke Li B side. It’s only lead singer Rebekah Raa’s vocal that pins this to its London home – restrained for the most part, but occasionally evoking Florence Welch’s diaphragm-tightening roar. Their songs are elegantly constructed; said opener plays out like a drifting river, while the production leaves enough space for tracks to grow and hearts to swell with them.
2010’s Animal Festival follows, wrapped in more scatters of percussion, strides of guitar, and spurts of Raa’s innocent yet knowing vocals. Previous singles Don’t Spit at Her Face and Lost Art (ii) make welcome appearances, but their presence doesn’t overshadow newer tracks which introduce themselves with an air of familiarity. Corridors devours its My So-Called Life muse creating a sulk of a song that drags itself protectively along while Raa sighs: "It’s the way he leans / It gets me every time."
The use of a remix at the centre of the record is a little baffling, eventually drawing attention back to what is otherwise a daydream of a listen. But as title-track Losing Colour draws to an end it’s difficult not to feel conflicted. While this album is a joyous experience, it’s almost torture to press play again knowing this is the end.