Rating: 7 / Format: CD/LP / Label: The Social Registry
The sophomore album from this London collective somehow manages to be both less avant-garde and less accessible than its predecessor, but it’s no worse for either of these facts. Sian Alice Group’s debut, 59.59, is a particularly eclectic collection of songs, alternating between free-form jazz, piano-led ballads, psychedelia and rock. Troubled, Shaken Etc. remains diverse, but reins in the more disparate elements to create a cohesive whole where tracks subtly wash over you.
Starting slowly with the simple repeated guitars and gentle percussion of ‘Love That Moves the Sun’, frontwoman Sian Alice Ahern doesn’t seem in any hurry to place herself in the foreground. Her beautiful, shimmering vocals add a gentle melancholy which defines the first several tracks of the album. The ominous, rumbling ‘Close To the Ground’ sounds like a band ready to step it up, and from this fourth track onwards it’s like SAG have awoken; the electro-jazz concoction ‘Vanishing’ and the Kraftwerk-influenced ‘Longstrakt’ providing a more memorable second half to the LP. Album closer ‘Salt Water’ again begins slowly but gradually boils over; discordant guitars clashing with drums, punctuated by orchestral flourishes and crescendos.
Troubled, Shaken Etc. won’t be to everyone’s taste; its slow and brooding tracks demand a degree of patience, but given the chance this rich, affecting record will work its way under your skin.