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Saturday, 28th May 2016
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Moulettes - Preternatural

Moulettes PreternaturalOne thing you can't accuse Brighton based prog/rock/alt-folk outfit Moulettes of, is lack of ambition.

"There's so many phenomenal creatures out there we thought they deserved their own album," explains lead vocalist Hannah Miller, prompted by an article in New Scientist from 2015.  A year and a half later and the result is Preternatural.

Where this places the band from a genre point of view, is debatable, but they're probably alone.  Moulettes were always on the edge of the folk world.  Now they're orbiting as a satellite.  Traditional folkies may want to run away and hide now.

Some have likened Moulettes to a cross between Pentangle and Pink Floyd, but on this record they're reminiscent of late 10cc, as the Godley and Creme half of that group started to move away from traditional song structures.  With the rich harmonies and heavily rhythmic  back beat, they also put one in mind of a more delicate version of Queen, with a hint of B-52s thrown in.

The end result is oddly likeable.  Favourite track of this reviewer was the almost conventional Pufferfish Love, inspired by David Attenborough's footage of Japanese mandala-making pufferfish.  Here, Hannah's pretty, delicate voice has the stage to itself.  Whilst the harmonies are well done elsewhere, they're overdone.  There are only so many 'oohs' you can take on one CD.

Another notable entry is opening track Behemoth a drum led piece with a heavy beat.  The oohs (them again) merge into the next track Underwaterpainter, a tribute to your not so humble octopus.  Full marks for getting the words 'meticulously' and 'symbotically' into the lyrics.

Overall, judgment for this listener is still pending.  In a more cynical frame of mind, you might have the band catching the speed boat to Pseuds Corner.  Yet there's something compelling about Preternatural and you find yourself drawn in.  It's tempting to suggest that it might be beneficial to listen whilst under the influence of certain psychoactive substances.  Perhaps the album should have been released last week, when legal highs could still be obtained without invoking the presence of PC Plod.

- Les Pilling

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