Fiction – May 19th
Debuts. They’re hardly the be all and end all. From Van Gough to Nick Drake, achievers of greatness often endure shaky beginnings. It was in those early, uncertain days they clocked resolve and went on to paint, play and write their way into the history books. And yet, without a debut to footnote or gloss over, we’d never have known.
The same cannot be said of London quartet, Pumarosa and their cosmically beautiful first effort. Under an hour long and ten tracks deep, The Witch is an album spoiled with celestial soundscapes and neat turns in pace throughout. Sometimes sombre but most of the time majestic, it is the sporadic sound of heartbroken heavens, threaded ever so delicately with Isabel Munoz-Newsome’s felt voice. A unique, gorgeous voice. One that lands roughly between Kate Bush and Jehnny Beth. Together with an array of percussion instalments, echoing strings and slurred sax attacks, Pumarosa have achieved something envied by all artists alike: carving out their own, attributable sound.
The band’s latest single and opening track, ‘Dragonfly’, with all its bleak waves of industrial electro-pop and metaphorical lyrics, serves as a dour prelude of what’s to come. A post-punk pastiche picks up the tempo in ‘Honey’ before the dark and sexy chords of title-track ‘The Witch’ seeps into, we daresay, Radiohead traits as apparent in the likes of ‘Pyramid Song’. A cacophonous outro reels in the delectably pacey ‘Priestess’ which’ll have you dancing away on the cusp of festival season – unlike personal favourite, ‘Lion’s Den’ which too harbours Karma Police qualities up until the momentous crescendo; thumping, screeching and wailing into a jarring oblivion. Pure fucking joy.
We’re half-way through and the surprises keep-a-coming with the cute, shoegazey ‘My Gruesome Loving Friend’ and creepy-funk rhythm of ‘Red’. Words of tortured love flow from ‘Barefoot’ to ‘Hollywood’ before the album finale ‘Snake’ adds a healthy dose of reverb on top of a Streets of Rage boss level sounding intro. It journeys on for six more minutes, with all elements of Pumarosa coming together with raw cohesion; dripping guitar chords accompany laboured vocals to round off a bloody good listen.
Produced to almost-perfection by Dan Carey (TOY, Bat For Lashes), The Witch has almost no weakness. There is no cliff for her to be pushed from nor no stake from which she could be burnt at. And although drab and dreary in its pained, realist lyrics, there is a vibrancy which sets it apart from other likes of the sort. As if Joy Division and Carol Ann Duffy cascaded through the same black hole and came out the other end more concentrated and less epileptic, The Witch is as haunting in its message as it is satisfying in its recording.
Buy: Pumarosa – The Witch