Blatent copy and paste:
Rose Elinor Dougall (No 568)The former Pipette succeeds in disassociating herself from her girl-group incarnation by dint of the freshness, the cool unforced vigour, of her sound
The lineup: Rose Elinor Dougall (vocals, keyboards).
The background: Do you know, it's a daily struggle to come up with – no, not bands that we like but bands that we don't like. We're serious. Last week we just about managed to find a couple that didn't exactly thrill us to the core, but this week – yes, we have 20/20 foresight – you can fully expect five on the trot that we will be wholeheartedly urging you to investigate. We apologise unreservedly for our complete and utter lack of ennui.
Two questions occur listening to today's new artist: one, how do you avoid the taint of a previous incarnation? And what are the most underrated singles of the century so far? Rose Elinor Dougall – RED to fans of acronyms – was one of the singers in the Pipettes, arguably the first modern group to acknowledge in sound and style the impact of pre-rock/mid-60s girl-group pop, ahead of Amy, Duffy and every sentient female with a record contract. We can't remember the last time a member of a decent band left to make better and more richly rewarding music, solo – maybe Little Boots, although the Pipettes had a far higher profile than Dead Disco (we'd also throw into the debate Paul McCartney, but then, we're weirdoes who preferred Wings to the Beatles). For some, the Pipettes, with their prim harmonies and polka-dot dresses, will have been a little twee, and we had them down as an indie end-of-the-pier novelty act, like the Andrews Sisters had they signed to Sarah Records, but RED succeeds in disassociating herself from them by dint of the freshness, the cool unforced vigour, of her sound.
We mentioned Little Boots, and RED is indeed a girl with a keyboard, but the music she makes isn't neo-80s synth-pop. Rather it recalls a different 80s, the 80s of Sarah, the Cocteaus and the Sundays, when indie aspired to an ethereal beauty if not an ecclesiastical solemnity. Her new single, Synchro/Start/Stop, titled after a button on a machine in her Brighton recording studio, is brought to you by Elefant Records (who, with Camera Obscura, Au Revoir Simone and Trembling Blue Stars, do this sort of thing rather well). It represents a huge advance from her December 2008 debut, Another Version of Pop Song. It opens with a haunting, almost churchy figure played on a harpsichord, always a welcome instrument, before bass, guitar and drums enhance a brisk-paced ballad. RED's voice is outstanding without being strident: imagine Siouxsie if she was less intimidatingly imperious, a more grounded Liz Fraser singing with the Smiths or Duffy with all the sweat and grit wiped away by Stereolab. The other track on the single, Static Saturday, is sublime. Dougall soars over and above the sparse backing (fairground organ, the soft patter of a drum machine), and even though you can barely make out the words, the message – something about the captivating quality of melancholy during a still weekend – is loud and clear. Then again, she could probably sing the news and rob you of your breath (she's the granddaughter of one of the great BBC broadcasters – tenuous links, we got 'em). More than anyone it reminds us of New Buffalo, the alias for Australian girl-with-keyboard Sally Seltmann, who was part of the Avalanches crew and, in 2001, released one of the unsung recordings of the century, the About Last Night EP. We don't want to wish obscurity upon RED, but we do kind of like it when once in a while something remains our little secret, and with Synchro/Start/Stop b/w Static Saturday, we might be looking at another couple of future lost classics.
The buzz: "Dougall's pretty songs swoon with the bittersweet reminiscence of falling in and out of love, breaking up and broken hearts."
The truth: Frankly, we're stunned – we always thought the Pipettes were too close to being a comedy troupe.
Most likely to: Release a debut album titled after a poem by a 17th-century German mystic.
Least likely to: Film a video featuring homeless people doing a synchronised dance.
What to buy: Start/Stop/Synchro + Static Saturday is available now on Elefant. It will be followed later this summer by the debut album, Without Why.
File next to: This Mortal Coil, Strawberry Switchblade, New Buffalo, the Sundays.
Links: www.myspace.com/roseelinordougallmusic and http://open.spotify.com/track/31EXuKN8Yp
Apart from getting the name of the single wrong (twice - they're nothing if not consistent) it's a pretty good writeup.