Rose Elinor Dougall – Stellular Review 

It’s been almost seven years since Rose Dougall’s first album Without Why. It was an inspired debut that balanced melancholy with direct Rock Pop. Sadly, it remained a hidden gem, lauded by a select few critics. A few weeks ago, Rose’s new album Stellular came in to the Records Sales Chart as a new entry at number one; knocking off none other than The Rolling Stones off the top spot and beating fellow new entry Brian Eno for good measure. This album has garnered more attention and has been featured more widely in the press which is no more than she deserves. Of course the proof lies in the music and her Future Vanishes EP in 2013 suggested a vibrant change of style was on the horizon. Has it came to pass? 

That shift in style is strongly felt with the lead singamd title track ‘Stellular’. It has that very keen sense of rhythm, but channeled through an Eighties Indie Pop track. Cascading synths take us from the verse to the chorus where Rose’s wistful vocals focus the buoyant sounds around her. It is a shifting and jiving piece of Pop music and as always it’s done with imagination with lyrics of emotional fragility Sifted through the guise of astronomy. It is an unrelenting track that leaves an indelible mark in your mind. ‘Strange Warnings’starts with a calm, Indie riff under a psychedelic disguise that then is suddenly yet all so easily pulled under a bass line that maintains a solid and arresting tune. The simple percussion also has the urgency of the rhythm being created. Rose joins in with her more haunting vocals as the steady build up of sound continues with the synths latching on too. It is a pure feast of groove and rhythm for which producer Boxed In deserves praise too. ‘Poison Ivy’ has a breezy and wistful flow to it from which melodic riffs peer through. Built on what are her easy and sweeping vocals, hidden behind all this are the sustained and complex percussion that maintains a steady rhythmic beat throughout the song and gives it a greater sense of depth and texture. The themes of jealousy, possession and power are projected out by the soothing vocals that are tinged with darker undercurrents in a smart contradiction to the ears. 

‘Take Yourself With You’ carries on the air of the Future Vanishes tracks, with the slack, sweeping production and the indelible melodies. This track has these themes wrapped around a bright and breezy pop swoon with the loose riffs and chiming synths, tinged with an aged warping sound. Wistful harmonies back up Rose’s calm vocals from which she occasionally explores some higher tones as she sings about reinventing yourself. ‘Closer’ is a punchy and slick piece of Pop that has elements of the Human League to it its sound and lyrical style. Each steady stab of the bass line is tinged ringing riffs at the end of each line. It’s a another track bursting with rhythm and hooks. ‘All at Once’ is an alluring electro-pop track made so with smooth, rolling instrumentation and Rose’s hushed tones.’Colour of Water’ has a light neo-psychedelic feel to it whilst ‘Hell and Back’ has relaxed elements of her earliest solo work. For the most part, Rose has fulfilled her ambitions with this album as it is vibrant, infectious and dynamic. Her complex and multi-layered narratives make every track an intriguing one, but perhaps there were a few towards the end of the album that didn’t need to be there. They were breezy and subtle tracks, but they don’t necessarily add to the Pop and energises core of the album. Nevertheless, it’s been well worth the wait and Stellular justifies the Popular and critical acclaim it’s received.

Rose Elinor Dougall – Stellular = 8/10

Owen Riddle 

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