Rachel Zeffira The Deserters Review

Released 2012.  

BBC Review

A beautiful solo debut, unequivocally demanding of your attention.

Daniel Ross 2012

Too late. The first articles about Rachel Zeffira have already been written and have branded her a classically-trained kook, the girl that's one half of Cat's Eyes with Faris Badwan from The Horrors and an entry in the NME's list of indie's sexiest women.

She might be classically-trained, but to write off her compositional craft as mere whimsy is to totally ignore a true, rare brilliance. The Deserters, given a chance, will completely negate any such journalistic silliness with just one listen, because it is a jolt of psychedelic, oozing instrumental wonder and songwriting magnificence.

Canadian Zeffira has a uniquely simplistic and powerful melodic knack which satisfies the head, but to massage the heart she has a real aptitude for arrangements. Oscillating strings, reeds and flutes are used with invention throughout, on the chug of Break the Spell and in the closing organ expanse of Goodbye Divine – all evidence that Zeffira is skipping wildly ahead of the pack.

Nyman-like undulations in texture, Debussy recalling piano washes, Krautrock momentum and a deeply romantic vantage jostle for attention, and it's to Zeffira's credit that no single element dominates. Enlisting the pop-psych ensemble TOY is something of a masterstroke on Here on In, using simple cellular tools to gently build a splashy, sulky and playlist-friendly pop song. Even the cover of My Bloody Valentine's To Here Knows When is unerringly convincing as entirely her own work, turning Kevin Shields' song about a druggy orgasm into a tender shimmer of intimacy.

Neatly, Zeffira sings "I might have seen something written about you / About the things you used to do," at one point on Star. It's an interesting line not just because it ties in with what people are writing about her already, but more because it's a forward-looking statement, about what used to be true.

With an album so perfectly formed and well made, it's the only possible perspective she could have. The Deserters is unequivocally demanding of your attention, as accomplished as it is tummy-meltingly wonderful to listen to.

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