The Brunettes: Paper Dolls (Lil' Chief)

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The Brunettes: Magic (No Bunny)
The Brunettes: Paper Dolls (Lil' Chief)

The cute and coy pop of the Brunettes has always been much enjoyed here at Elsewhere for its humour and slightly twee quality, and their previous album Structure and Cosmetics remains a Firm Favourite, as they say.

But frankly on this one some of the charm is wearing off: they work the same lyrical quirkiness about domestic matters and observations as always; the "relationship" between Jonathan Bree and Heather Mansfield is cutely explored ("If I should accidentally die and leave you much too soon, would you play and sing our songs the same with somebody new?"); and they appropriate Fifties and Seventies pop structures which sound alarmingly familiar (whoever wrote the original tune of Magic -- and you'll recognise it -- might be miffed).

They even provide the polite, built-in coda "thank you for the night, you made us feel welcome" for live shows.

Previously they sang about being contrived and of course they are, but no more so than any band. However here -- for all the whimsy -- this doesn't quite seem enough.

Beautifully realised in the arrangements and delivery as always, but just like you can have to much irony, so too the appeal of charm can start to feel manipulative and manufacturing a response.

The pop component is always going to have great appeal (these 10 songs are typically short, the album only 35 minutes long) but much here is derivative -- Crime Machine is almost a pastiche without the deliberate humour and overt referencing of Flight of the Conchords -- and after repeat plays I'm happy to sit this one out; delightful, charming and beautifully played though it might be.

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