London-based Henrique Laurindo and Lulu Grave are a musical partnership but no longer a romantic one, a fact that has fuelled the songs on their second album Sea of Murmur, released on their own Beat Mo label. They’ve also toned down the fuzz and the feedback so that their guitar pop sounds more like Field Mice, early My Bloody Valentine, the Lemonheads and, especially, Teenage Fanclub. But unfuzzing the songs also unleashes the strong sense of melancholy in the vocals, telling a series of tales of breakdown, loss and of reassessing your life.
For all the sorrow and regret (captured perfectly on gorgeous album closer ‘The Most Important Thing’) they’ve retained their commitment to melody, which shines through whatever the emotional weather. ‘Said The Spider To The Fly’ is in perfect early TFC territory, down to the way that the guitars go into overdrive in the second half of the song, a la 'God Knows It’s True'. ‘One Afternoon’ and ‘Slowdown’ are melodic teenage pop, part MBV, part GBV, skittering along at speed, while the new mix of ‘Indian Hill’ has Lulu in full mourning but melodic, sounding like a brokenhearted 60s girl group lamenting the death of some badboy biker. That song appeared on an earlier Soft Power 7” and the flipside, Black and Blue’, is also included on Sea of Murmur in remixed form.
It’s not all about them; film influenced the gentler jangle of ‘Fellini’s Thorn’ while ‘Ghost At The Lighthouse’ was inspired by the 1928 Dadaist animation Ghost Before Breakfast. ‘Dreaming Girl’, a live favourite and the darkest song here, is inspired by Fritz Lang’s M and unleashes a riot of full-fuzzed guitars, a rattling rhythm, and dramatic keyboards, acting as the best reminder of the Tamborines of old. That song shows how much they’ve left off the other tracks but thankfully they’ve left in the strong hooks and keen sense of melody - an evolution of their sound, but always in the right direction.