Sunday, 27 September 2009

Get Back Guinozzi! - Carpet Madness Album Review (2009)

A review for Altsounds.

Get Back Guinozzi! is a new French band formed a few years ago by Eglantine Gouzy and Fred Landini. After a brief foray as a solo artist in 2004, singer Gouzy teamed up with multi-instrumentalist Landini for this unique collaboration. The band’s debut album Carpet Madness is an interesting ride, blending genres, random concepts, child-like vocals and a plethora of backing tracks.

At it’s best, the songs on Carpet Madness instantly grab your attention. The title track owes much to De La Soul’s Eye Know with its jangly guitars, odd keyboards and simple chorus. I Don’t Want To Sleep Alone is deliciously dark and folky. After a minute it turns into a series of industrial steam-engine beats and animal noises. Sweet guitars and wistful, if creepy, vocals are at the core of Personal Lodger and L.A. is lo-fi electro-pop, very reminiscent of early Stereolab. Opener Where Are You is a good introduction to Gouzy’s charms, which sadly don’t last through the course of the album, and Landini’s tendency to throw in disjointed beats, odd guitar loops and other things to throw the listener off-guard.

Carpet Madness never completely falls apart, it just gets more eccentric. Low Files Tropical sounds like slowed down Shonan Knife doing a reggae cover mixed with old Nintendo sound effects. Gouzy seems to be singing three or four vocal tracks at the same time. Truly mesmerising but utterly bizarre at the same time. Go Back To School is like a rebel anthem for the Cbeebies generation complete with strange giggling samples in the outro. Sick suffers from an out of place expletive that doesn’t fit with the nature of the album. That said, it is wonderful wobbly shimmering surf-pop to the end. Closer King’s Song is not the big upbeat finish the album needs. It ends suddenly with the word ‘disaster’.

Even with the bad ending, the album has some real gems towards the end. Police And Thieves, the Junior Murvin reggae hit covered by The Clash, is given the Get Back Guinozzi! treatment. But what could be a huge mess turns out to be one of the most straight-forward songs on Carpet Madness. Aside from some brief interludes, the version stays true to the original even if Gouzy’s vocals fall a little flat. Baby Baby is wonderfully controlled, given what has come before. It sounds way too fast with garbled vocals, but eventually morphs into a series of layered African choir-like voices. Jungely brings it all together for a decent semi-psychedelic guitar-pop song. Gouzy is enchanting and dreamy, if a little disorganised with her lyrics.

Carpet Madness is extremely challenging stuff that moves from fresh and quirky to annoying and back again. It draws you in then alienates you, then draws you back in. In spite of the band’s French roots, songs are delivered in English which in itself is not a problem (the effect is similar to another French band Arther who sing in English yet retain all of their ‘Frenchness‘). It would too easy to say that you have to be in just the right mood to enjoy Get Back Guinozzi! but repeat listens and the album will begin to get under your skin. Whether this is in a good way, only you can decide…
-- CS (for Altsounds)

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