Published Jul 30, 2018"Small peculiar music" is the descriptor that We Are Muffy went with on the "genre" section of their Facebook page. And at times, that kooky phrase suits the British duo perfectly on their LP, The Charcoal Pool. Key track "Precious Things," for instance, features well-timed humming by both members (gruff-voiced Nick Duffy and the feathery angel vocals of Angeline Morrison), along with autoharp notes that are as whisper soft as their singing.
However, it isn't a gentle or comforting softness, instead reaching a haunting and forlorn skeletal tone. But before long they harmonize about things that "darkness cannot destroy" (pronounced "deeeestroy" in their endlessly charming English lilt). Those lyrics combined with the delivery and instrumentation make the duo sound wounded but resolute.
It's not the only such enthrallingly nuanced track on the LP. Opening number "Civil Service," sports sauntering acoustic string strums and intervals of melancholy horns, before Duffy charms you with his speak-singy delivery to describe "aero-planes" and "a bar of Toblerone" in that endlessly elegant, but also folksy, accent.
However, there are other times where We Are Muffy defy their "small peculiar music" mantra altogether. Morrison's forefront turn on "Frosted Candy" is a clear standout in that regard, i.e., it sounds like a big fat hit, though maybe not one of this era. Its production is slicker than anything else on the record, and that along with Morrison's angsty yet innocent lyricism, and the song's '60s soul ethos all make it sound richly vintage, but also otherworldly. Not to mention the fact that Morrison sings the hell out of it.
Then there's "Strange Admixture," for which the duo shrug off their bohemian folk leanings to tackle a track that sounds like an acoustic Sgt. Pepper's B-side, from the chorus accentuating hums to Morrison's lines about stars "as bright as your eyes," and fun, evocative lyrics about how "if you squish blackberries they'll stain your fingertips blue." Let's just say it's enough to leave Ringo grinning, let alone the average listener.
Does We Are Muffy's quirky ambitiousness often ward off mainstream appeal? You bet. But curious listeners craving a unique alt folk record will delight in The Charcoal Pool's creative depths. (Tapete)