Azalia Snail Avec Amour

Avec Amour is a perfumed note from the ’90s underground. Azalia Snail’s songs straddle epic and lo-fi descriptions — she moans in familiarly flawed indie rock fashion over thick, partially synthesised orchestration, and through any number of musical layers the songs sound intentionally amateurish. This is her 11th album since 1989, and despite a smattering of stylised imperfections, a level of experience comes across. There are plenty of footnotes to indie rock from the time of Azalia Snail’s musical conception to now: shoegazer dream sequences, sluggish song progression and off-key vocals, to name a few. It sounds like the stew of a bygone era, but it’s cute and charming and shouldn’t turn off any forward-minded listeners. At once sprawling and cute-as-a-bug’s-ear, Avec Amour stretches out for a bumpy 50 minutes, frequently off-beat, drenched in synth sweeps, but dragging a sticky net of pop hooks along its path. Azalia Snail slightly stunts her own credibility as a songwriter by leaving her tunes so sloppy — they sound deceptively formless under so many purposive mistakes. Her girlish voice makes her difficult to take seriously at times, but she probably can’t help it. Those in favour of a more compacted sound might do well to pass on this, but for those equally enamoured of sugary and sprawling pop, this is just it. (True Classical)