Troubled, Shaken Etc.
British rock band Sian Alice Group’s latest effort can be categorized somewhere between prog rock, ambient folk, and experimental. Clocking in anywhere between two and eight minutes, their songs wind around and bump up against one another, creating a cohesive sophomore album. Troubled, Shaken Etc., in all its bewildering glory, is the followup to their critically acclaimed 59:59.
On "First Song - Angelina" and "Close to the Ground"—one of the album's most memorable tracks—Sian Ahern's haunting vocals carry the tune over lilting piano melodies and fading percussion. While never an imposing front woman, it’s clear—not just from the band’s chosen name—that Ahern is a force with which to be reckoned. What can I say? I like tough gals with delicate voices.
Even at only 1:55, “Longstrakt” is a memorable track, reminiscent of label mates Gang Gang Dance with its hypnotic, repetitive percussion. Want to be instantly transported into a psychedelic horror film? This is the song for you.
While the entire album shifts moods and structure repeatedly, it retains a cohesive quality. It fades as forgettable background music if you stop paying attention, but take it to a listening party with your super hip composer friends and impress them all with your ability to listen to the album tracks out of order.
Bands on The Social Registry label are often uninhibited by confusing rhythms, comfortable with unconventional songwriting and vocal abilities. Sian Alice Group is no exception, though it should be noted that their ethereal sounds may be more listenable than other musicians who keep the same professional ties. This is more fact than strength or weakness.
On tour in the U.S. starting in September, their casual post-rock shows ought to be worth entrance fees, if not the token t-shirt.