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Felix You Are the One I Pick Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

A gateway into another headspace, one aglow with uncertain magic.

Andrzej Lukowski 2009

As statements of romantic intent go, Death To Everyone But Us must represent either the most straightforward, honest distillation of the love song, or the creepiest. It's probably fair to say that both elements exist happily within Felix's track of the same name, the opener on their beguilingly pretty, yet often profoundly strange debut album You Are the One I Pick. Indeed, it's this odd ability to blend a sense of dreamy romance with genuine, bona-fide weirdness that presumably recommended Lucinda Chua and Chris Summerlin to Chicago label Kranky, the Nottingham couple representing their first-ever UK signing.

You Are the One I Pick is a hazy 34 minutes of minimal but nonstop music, an almost slowcore-like trickle of distant pianos, sparse, slow thickets of bendy strings and the occasional sonorous garnish of Chua's cello. Her singing is plangent and somewhat girlish, not unlike PJ Harvey's on 2007's White Chalk. Indeed, Harvey's record is a pretty good comparison piece, at least sonically: were there any chance that Dorset's queen of darkness would, in one of her quieter moments, write a song named I Wish I Was a Pony, it would quite possibly sound identical to Felix's wistful track of the same.

But then, while Harvey busies herself at the heart of darkness, Chua's interests are more varied. These songs flow together seamlessly, in soft, almost hook-free eddies that suddenly coagulate in mantric chants that lodge themselves in the brain: "I'm going to marry the Marlboro Man," Chua chants, darkly, on Ode to the Marlboro Man; Back in Style's lyric is almost entirely comprised of the line "That gum you like's gonna come back in style," a line from David Lynch's Twin Peaks – baffling even if you get the reference.

Indeed, like Lynch, Felix's strength lies not with conventional accomplishment – Lynch doesn't do plots, they don't do choruses – but in creating a simultaneously funny/pretty/dark/wry/innocent emotional ambience and spiking it with the odd stunning set piece – Lynch does dancing midgets, Felix go in for those swells of unsettling chanting. It's a gateway into another headspace, one aglow with uncertain magic.

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