Lots of people loved Bird. They were all set to fly before being derailed by something or other. Then came Feral Love, remember them? It doesn’t matter, because pop art obsessive Adéle Emmas is back with the other-worldly St. Jude the Obscure and they’re about to play their first headline gig. The music we’ve heard up to now isn’t too far removed from what came before, but it’s dripping in an aesthetic that exists to capture your attention. By Alan O’Hare.
It’s an artist’s job to make you care about their obsessions.
The very best communicators tempt you into their world by teasing and tantalising those intrigued into taking a closer look at what they’re creating. Songs are important, obviously. But a consistent aesthetic is a constant for successful music makers right now – the likes of Future Islands, The War On Drugs and The XX invite you into their orbit by very often serving up the same ingredients with every new record… but you always feel like you’ve got the new dish that you ordered.
Out of the ashes of Bird and Feral Love, St. Jude the Obscure have arrived with an aesthetic that remains across widescreen laments such as ‘Like The Wind’ and zeitgeist pop like ‘Ruins’ (see video below). New single ‘Diving Bell’, meanwhile, shimmers with reverb-drenched guitar brush strokes, an ethereal charm and the sense that something big is about to happen (those Florence Welch-esque muted backing vocals keep threatening to follow through). It never does and, that the song hovers rather than soars, reveals the tension at the heart of the best of St. Jude the Obscure’s music.
“To the sea I go” sings Adéle Emmas, again and again, over a drowning marching beat and the repetition is striking. Sure, there’s a little bit of ‘Hounds Of Love’ in there, but Emmas and collaborator Christian Sandford have found something all of their own, too. The likes of BBC 6Music are sniffing around and it’s not hard to hear why: this is music wearing the insecurities of 2017 on its sleeve. Proudly. St. Jude the Obscure may claim to create ‘electronic art’, but there’s something a little more simple at the heart of their tunes: the melodies search for connections and the production is as icy as the wind whipping in from the Mersey this winter. In short, they’re making the sound of right now and are doing it very well.
They say you only get one chance to create a first impression – but what happened to allowing artists to grow? After a couple of false starts, it sounds like these musicians are ready to make a home in the margins.
St. Jude the Obscure
Saturday, December 9th 2017, 7.30pm
St Bride’s Church, Percy Street, Liverpool
Pic courtesy Liverpool Acoustic