Words By: Axel Carrington
Third LP from Kenwick’s favourite no-fi troubadour, third time he’s knocked it clear of the Brixton St Wetlands.
Right from the first bark of distant dogs, Alex Griffin’s latest record as Ermine Coat uses its creation to its up most advantage, living up to its title in intent – but certainly not in quality. To watch Alex’s maturation as a person and a writer is to witness a blossoming in microcosm, something that is beautifully snapshot in these ten songs. There are familiar tropes for long-time listeners: framed by ironic re-appropriation of melodic and lyrical fragments, another Watching Blank tune, countless references to cultural touchstones (although Like, I understand nostaglia/but you actually defended Rove Live? Is less a landmark and more of a gentle stab), even a call-back to his previous LP’s title – the real strength of these thirty and a bit minutes is that it paves a new path and intention for Perth’s favourite Audacity user.
For one, although the digital grain and smoke rings produced by the self-recorded bedrooms remain, Alex has decided not to hide his talent for catchy riffs, both instrumental and vocally, especially in the front half – a cause for complete celebration. These talents have always been there, caked under mountains of hiss: like the proverbial cake, however, they have risen to the top. Take first single, ‘Rent Network’ – based on a simple guitar riff and a plodding, tapped stick, has a whispered, forlorn Griff that is the focus. I want to be kept in your pocket/but a hole keeps wearing through speaks volumes of the transient nature of love and when paired with its knowing title of share house life in Perth, it tears this old chunk of coal’s heartstrings.
It’s this, this constant yet always sudden shudder within me that keeps me coming back to this record. More so than ever before, Alex has found a perfect mix between form and content – in a recent interview, he compares the creation and of this record to a Duchamp piece, essentially made of the artists’ cum: how perfect a distillation is this? It is at once so personal, so much the product of one singular brain, and yet, feels so universal and real, so close and clear to every day life as a twenty-something person utterly lost. Even with the listing of the canon’s contribution of ‘histrionic break up records’ in final track, ‘Robin Thicke Alone in the Studio’ is not to include himself in these kind of outbursts, these touchstones of middle fingers to romantic entanglements – it’s the attempt to exclude himself, as just a person, trying to communicate, which is the wonder, how those sort of records gain universality by sheer cult of personality, rather than the vain attempts of put downs that end up actuating.
Faulty Landscape is a success because it’s a record about people and love, that doesn’t aim at one person. They sing it from Outer Paris to Kenwick – it’s a universal communication.