Ethienne

The Old And The New World

Written by: TL on 26/09/2011 17:18:28

The next review from me is about a record which initially feel through the cracks of our otherwise foolproof (yeah right) promo-handling system here at Rockfreaks.net. We've had "The Old And The New World", the debut LP from Italian indie/rock quartet Ethienne, since early April, but due to a misunderstanding, I only realised I was meant to write about it some time last week. So yeah, to Ethienne and their fans, I apologise. Now let's get on with it.

On "The Old And The New World", Ethienne seem to be working with some of the darker elements from The Cure, trying to mold them into more conventional and accessible songs, like those of Snow Patrol or Coldplay. Both the singing and the effect applied to it sounds more than a little like Robert Smith, and the dreamy lead guitar and synths belong in the samme gloomy atmosphere as well, but the chords contributed by the rhythm guitar, and the straightforward, chorus oriented song-structures seem to hint that unlike The Cure, Ethienne want to rather be catchy than quirky.

The result is a record that swings back and forth between songs like opener "So Good Night Day" and third track "A Fist In The Snow". The latter has singer Filippo Pietrobon sounding so much like Robert Smith it hurts, and sticks to a dark mood through all parts of the song, while the former is a good example of an attempt to be a bit more anthemic and uplifting, with the band repeating a refrain going "I'm coooming hoome! I'm coooming hoome!" to a nice, almost Snow Patrol-ish effect.

To dodge the discussion of whether trying to straighten out The Cure is a good, tasteful idea or rather complete sacrilege, I'd rather go beyond that and instead remark upon how well the band fares result-wise. And here, whether we're talking songs like one or the other of the two I've already mentioned, it strikes me that Ethienne have two closely-related drawbacks that hamper their otherwise surprisingly passionate and well-recorded material. The main issue is that the entire record seems invariably written in the key of 'depression', and this obscures the otherwise admirable fact that the band keeps things versatile, changing between songs driven by guitar, piano or electronics. This impression is also rooted in problem area no. 2, which is at the singing. Pietrobon must be commended for sounding good whether doing the airy Smith-impression or singing in a more full voice, but he is unquestionably lacking in charisma, and often sounds a bit too whiny for prolonged periods of time.

This can of course be forgiven, because it may be that Ethienne just really wants to have a record that is rainy-day rock through and through, and in that case they can be relatively proud of themselves. Whether that is the case or not though, the record still needs memorable tracks as much as any other record, if it hopes to make an impression, and it is in this department that I sense the unchanging melancholy sort of inhibits the band. The twelve tracks on offer pass by while hardly striking me as anything out of the ordinary at least, and my theory is that this is a direct effect of the constantly mopey mood. Being slightly more dynamic, especially when it comes to the singing, would be my suggestion as something that could help Ethienne go places. For now though "The Old And The New World" is a well recorded album, with a thick, convincing atmosphere that should especially accomodate you if you're in a particularly foul mood. It does not however, have the necessary class or character to break Ethienne into the world of magazine articles, internet hype and international recognition.

Download: So Good Night Day, A Fist In The Snow, Lullaby
For The Fans Of: The Cure, Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Glasvegas
Listen: facebook.com

Release Date 30.03.2011
Deep Elm Records

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