We’ve been eagerly awaiting this album for months now. The now four-piece have widened their already glorious palate, becoming both more abstract and funkier in the process. ‘Baby U Know’ oozes confidence, even featuring a cheeky backing vocal nod to The Backstreet Boys on the understated but brilliant opener “Progressive Causes”. The title track also pulls off a similar trick, aping “Os Mutantes”.
“Baby U Know, That’s Not The Way”
Serafina Steer really lets go vocally at times. She wails like Ari Up on the powerful chant-along “Vision Of Change” and the joyous “Too Good To Be True”. But back to “Vision Of Change” for a moment. It’s a stomping call for a peaceful revolution which features an absolute ripper of a violin solo by Charlie Stock.
The album is used to make numerous political statements throughout. This ranges from disgust at governmental shenanigans and cover ups (“All Forgotten”), desperation for change (“Vision Of Change”), to questioning societal norms (“Sex Cult”).
While a lot of this feels new there are familiar moments of stunning winding composition, that we associate with Steer’s older solo work. “My Incantations, Herbs & Art Have Abandoned Me” the particular case in point. There’s something also akin to Hen Ogledd about it; likely the strange spacey synth sounds and clunky percussion.
‘Baby U Know’ displays a wide palette with a huge amount of variation throughout.
“Shopping In A New City” is an understated and largely ambient piece that revolves around a wall of violin sound, while “You Have Bewitched Me” is a relatively straight piece of Cocteau Twins-esque indie pop. Emma Smith has broadened her multi-instrumental approach here too. She provides bass, violin, percussion and even tin whistle duties on “All Forgotten” and the wonderfully crooked Post Punk of “Too Good To Be True”.
The expanded approach also allows drummer Rachel Horwood to really display her chops, with performances as aurally exciting as they were on Trash Kit’s excellent ‘Horizon’ album. Steer’s more recent explorations into electronics have certainly spilled deeper into Bas Jan too. “Profile Picture” is one final cracker that veers between the ambient, abstract and disco. Hypnotic oscillating synth, drum crashes and disjointed violin slides set up a fizzing disco chorus throughout.
This pandemic product, whilst sometimes intense in subject matter is truly uplifting, with a subtle tongue in cheek humour throughout. ‘Baby U Know’ may just be 2022’s first great album.
FFO Serafina Steer, The Slits, The Raincoats, Hen Ogledd, Ravioli Me Away, Cocteau Twins