Thursday, 15 March 2012

Alex Winston - King Con

The criteria for liking this album is rather transparent. You'll enjoy this album if you like Alex Winston's voice. For me personally, I quite like her voice which falls somewhere between Ellie Goulding and Joanna Newsom so this album is not such a struggle for me as it surely will be for some. 

The whole record is very floaty and often twee musically, with a lot of twinkling piano and Alex's chirpy voice taking centre stage, not always to rousing effect. Luckily from what the album perhaps lacks in musical substance it makes up for in bizarrely intriguing lyrics and some occasional massive tunes. You will have heard 'Choice Notes' from adverts / tv montages, it was Winston's major introduction to the world and is likely to be what she is remembered for in the future. It's got the carefree bounce that a lot of the best pop songs have, and sticks rigidly in the listener's head with enough attention. 'Medicine' largely repeats the tricks of 'Choice Notes', with an added kind of banjo campfire hoedown feel to it as Winston sings "I wont take my medicine... Sell your house, sell your kids" without any sort of conviction, her voice completely throwing away any meaning behind the lyrics of what could have been a promising track.

'Velvet Elvis' too is flimsy, with lyrics like "Finger painting circle time, I'll love you to the day I die" detailing an attraction to an inanimate Elvis doll, it just feels a bit desperate to be kooky and different and doesn't carry enough of a melody to be remembered. It's not all forgettable pop dross, 'Guts' actually has some guts. It's a more full bodied track with Winston's voice allowed to flourish more than it has elsewhere, sounding like a more sprawling Laura Gibson track with tinges of Florence & The Machine. It's obvious from tracks such as 'Guts' that Winston is truly at her best when she makes bigger music rather than twee little ditties that could come come out of the bedroom of pretty much any American teenage girl. This moves me on to the album's absolute highlight, so much better than everything else it completely shows up the rest of the album. The song I'm talking about is 'Sister Wife' and it's amazing from start to finish. From the echoed drums and anthemic chanting at the beginning, to the impassioned chorus "hey there sister wife, get the hell out it's my life!", for one of the only times on King Con it feels like Winston really has some feeling and meaning behind a track, so much so it actually rubs off and leaves an impression. 

If King Con was an album with tracks as strong as 'Guts' and 'Sister Wife' then Winston could be seen as a definite competitor to the chart friendly likes of Goulding, Florence and Marina. And her voice is more unique and alternative than most, giving her a more interesting spin. But unfortunately with only a few stand out tracks, most of King Con just sounds like nonsensical floaty montage filler. 


Toby McCarron

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