Friday, 12 April 2013

Us & Them - Walk Light EP

Us & Them are Britt and Anders, a Swedish duo whose work for the much-loved Fruits de Mer label has featured many times in my shows.  Their most recent FdM outing, as part of the excellent Re-Evolution compilation of Hollies covers, contained their version of 'Butterfly', a gorgeous lilting reinterpretation which was, despite some pretty stiff competition, the album's stand out track.

Us & Them are the kind of band who can make a cover version their own, which is why they've fitted the Fruits de Mer roster like a glove.  In their hands 'Butterfly' was transformed from an appealing, if fairly insubstantial little ditty into a melancholy psych-folk explosion.

Now, their EP of self-penned tunes, Walk Light, has reached me.  Released this time on the Ritual Echo label, this small but very substantial collection actually came out back in November but found its way through my letterbox only recently.  The result?   I now no longer see Us & Them as purveyors of some of the most wondrous cover versions I've ever heard, but as some of the most wondrous songs I've ever heard.

If anything, their own stuff is even better.  Only four songs, but each one deserves to be celebrated in its own right.  I didn't think Weston-Super-Mare could inspire anything other than the most feeble sun tan, but Us & them have made it the title of a great song and freed me, at last, from my association of the town with the great ladybird plague of 1976.  Other tracks are equally as fine, but it's when you get to the end of the EP that the goosebumps really start and something unspeakably tender starts running around your head and down your spine.

It's called 'Oblivion' and it's five minutes plus of one of the most beautiful songs I've heard in the last few years.  I'm playing it in my April show on Dandelion Radio, which you can still hear streaming at various times during the rest of the month: it's in there alongside, as usual, a lot of abrasive electronics, Hungarian punk and all sorts of other wonderful things, but in their own gentle way 'Oblivion' and Us & Them can equal the power of any of them.

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