By: Julia Simon
If Coldplay’s Chris Martin fronted Animal Collective, it might sound like Guillemots. Sure, there’s a vast schism there to span, but this Birmingham, England-based quartet (with a British singer/pianist, Brazilian guitarist, Scottish drummer, and Canadian bassist) are as eccentric as they are accessible. On their U.S. debut, From the Cliffs, these multinationals blithely clank Fisher Price instruments alongside syrupy horns, velvety pianos, lulling violins, horse whinnies, and typewriter clicks. Their melodies are sweet yet wobbly, too sleek and soulful for aficionados of freak-folk, but too jaunty and discordant for dusty adult-contemporary crates.
And for their dynamism, they’ve got the notoriously finicky British press behind them: BBC News have called Guillemots “a safe bet for this year’s Mercury Prize” and the Guardian have touted them as a “band of the moment.” The accolades are no surprise considering that the band’s jangle-pop confections can spin with dulcet-yet-dizzying glee (“Trains to Brazil”) or build slowly with pre-Kid A gasconade before wringing out with junkyard bombast (“Go Away”). Only “My Chosen One,” a methodical piano ballad that highlights the classical training of frontman Fyfe Dangerfield, plays it safe. The rest of the album is a sudden rush of blood to the head that sure feels good.