The Constellations – [Album]

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The beauty of pastiche music-making is that, while two listeners might like what a particular band is laying down – they may even become diehard super-fans – it could be for completely separate reasons. It's a remarkable phenomenon, certainly, and definitely one that The Constellations are likely to find; from the opening buzz of “Setback,” singer Elijah Jones and company lay out a full and tantalizing smorgasbord of sounds including Top 40 Pop, R&B, trip hop, rock, soul and electroclash but, rather than attempting to combine those pieces to show how versatile they can be, merely use them as ingredients that the band whips to a froth and serves up as a thoroughly unique music parfait.

How does it work? Spectacularly well – but the secret is to not dissect it too much because trying to do so will drive any listener crazy. From the opening synth drone that almost immediately gives way to ethereal guitars and tight vocal flow, The Constellations will instantly grab the attention of listeners because they are playing to three or four different groups of fans (Top 40, hip hop and rock – at least) and doing it with disarming facility. As Jones weaves back and forth between electric Britpop lines and hip hop punctuations, listeners will gasp in hopes that the whole thing doesn't topple and heave a sigh of relief when the song's chorus switches over completely to a Britpop anthem for resolve.

Even in that opening move, The Constellations have their hook set into listeners but, from there, the band keeps pushing to make the contrast between the sounds they're intermingling even dicier; thereby increasing the reward to listeners with each successive track. On “Perfect Day,” for example, The Constellations somehow manage to find and sink deep into the pocket of a very electronic-sounding beat and groove out some pretty infectious electro-rhythm & blues with more cool than anyone could reasonably expect from a band of youngsters from the heartland. Emboldened, The Constellations push even further as they imagine what a collaboration between Tricky and Elvis Costello might sound like on “Love Is A Murder” before really spinning listeners' heads by breaking out a harpsichord on “December” (which sounds like Morrissey might were he to jump onstage with The Eagles and steal the mic during “Hotel California”) or turning Tom Waits into a cyborg on “Step Right Up.” In each of these cases ) and many, many more), The Constellations clearly relish in their re-setting of every musical value they run across but, for listeners, the true joy lies in the fact that Southern Gothic has no wrinkles in its' fabric and nothing resembling a misspent moment. In spite of Southern Gothic being their debut album, The Constellations come on confidently and deliver the goods with an ease that rivals most bands' third or fourth efforts. Whatever they do next, if The Constellations can match the quality of Southern Gothic, they'll be in a good position to break a few walls and really affect some change in the quickly-homogenizing design of pop and rock.



The Constellations – “Felicia” – Southern Gothic

Further Reading:
Ground Control feature: "The Constellations Come Together On A Sound All Their Own"


Southern Gothic
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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