It’s a string-fuelled acoustic affair — folk music that swings.
Paul Bennun 2009-05-29
A curious concoction from Toronto, Beacons is album number two from the rather gorgeous Ohbijou. It’s a string-fuelled acoustic affair — folk music that swings. Imagine a posse of Joanna Newsoms at an instrument-swapping party and you’re getting there: mandolin, bell lyre, banjo, piano, cello and many others pop up.
Ohbijou sound like a musical collective with a strong band-leader to these ears: Casey Mecija clearly at the centre. Luckily, she’s great. She sounds like a version of Alanis Morrissette with her eyes on the horizon rather than her feet; her default vocal stance is 'little-girl sweet' but she can certainly belt it out on demand. Mecija's very sparing with her two-barrel blast though, and the effect is far more effective as a result. Additionally, the lyrics smell enough of ciggies and city fumes to avoid hitting a twee at high speed. In fact, the (generic) City permeates the album. It's as if there are just too many people in the damn thing to avoid someone getting their heart broken, so you may as well sing about it. Dredging up criticism, they could do with a bit of humour possibly — something to leaven the consistently angsty indie feel. That said, there’s no doom here.
Standout tunes include … well, pretty much the whole album. New Years proves Sigur Rós don’t have a monopoly on songs building to a crescendo; Black Ice is a shot of cooling winter great for sultry summer listening; Wildfires is just good old-fashioned catchy. The album is a definite grower, too. Bet you a tenner they’re famous by autumn.