Rose Elinor Dougall and indie-pop—thick as thieves, they are. Her foray into the indie-pop verse began with her 2003-2008 stint as “Rosay Pipette” in The Pipettes’ cream of the crop lineup alongside “Gwenno” and “RiotBecki”—featuring on their impressive debut We Are The Pipettes. Her 2010 solo-debut Without Why laced together her pop affiliations, folk rock affections, knack for precise instrumentation (perhaps divulged from Pipettes backing band The Cassettes) and a penchant for lovelorn lyrical tales of lust and heartbreak. Her latest EP brings three new indie-pop compositions and one more electronic piece as a successfully intriguing buzz-builder for her impending second LP.
Opener “Future Vanishes” offers a short build-up in the form of a peppy, speak-sing chorus before Dougall belts out with her own signature cynicism through an energetic chorus, solemnly celebrating the thought of “escape as future vanishes.” Much like her Pipettes days, her mid-range dulcet tones relay what could easily be perceived as a sort of cynicism in her transitions, as she ascends the energy of her piece with a rather minute, almost coy show of effort.
“Poison Ivy” is a more low-key affair, but even it comes with a peppy, 6/8 tap-along beat. The largely piano-guided number showcases the more vulnerable Dougall that prevailed throughout Without Why: “Like poison ivy twists and binds me/through cracks and fissures to destroy this silently.” Rose has a knack for playing out lovers’ lament with a fine balance, seldom laying emotion on any thicker than the situation calls for.
“Strange Warnings” is another catchy number that rings in tune with “Future Vanishes” (and also features as two digitally minded remixes on the EP’s iTunes edition), but a tad more lackadaisical, featuring a lofty bridge with layered, reverb-laden vocal harps from Dougall. The track plays out with a cyclical rhythm across verse and chorus, laced by an addled, cooing, twangy synth line tips out of the background as its own strange warning, providing light tension within an otherwise peppy tune.
Lastly, “Sink Back In To Blue” plays out like nothing we’ve heard of Dougall prior. The largely electronic piece finds Rose speaking over lofty atmospherics in a style reminiscent of Belle And Sebastian’s Stuart David and his “A Space Boy Dream” cut from The Boy With the Arab Strap (or the similar songs he’s released as Looper). The transition seems somewhat out of place, largely because Dougall flourishes so well within her own established genre, yet her mostly spoken word narrative accompanied by a layered bridge of ethereal wails is enchanting all the same and deserving of no demerit.
Not so much “more of the same,” but a similar sound examined more in-depthly through a stronger lens. If this is indeed a mere buzz-builder, and, through Future Vanishes, Rose Elinor Dougall is debuting her intent on melding the scattered moods of these first three tracks with the digitalist nature of “Sink Back In To Blue,” then the impending LP is one worthy of anticipation.