The Orielles: Silver Dollar Moment review – a garage rock masterclass

(Heavenly Recordings)

The pathway from sweaty pub to wealth, fame and five nights at Wembley Stadium carved out by generations of rock stars is now overgrown. Creatively, guitar music is a genre wrung dry of major innovation. It isn’t even a form of noble rebellion any more; there’s little glory in rehashing the thrills of subcultures past. In this harsh climate, bands are adapting by sliding into the unexplored nooks and crannies of old styles and cleverly sounding out untapped combinations. The Orielles – two sisters and a friend from Halifax – embody this modern mindset. Their debut is a carefully crafted collection of songs that seem nostalgic and novel, summoning ghosts while exploiting guitar music’s capacity for oddness and idiosyncrasy. As with every contemporary rock band, it’s possible to boil the Orielles down to their influences: they mix the dazzlingly bright disco-rock of Orange Juice with flyaway 90s indie and the thrillingly sinister freak-outs of mid-60s psych and garage. Their magisterial 2017 single Sugar Tastes Like Salt, which sadly isn’t present here, fused those influences most impressively, but the brilliant closer Blue Suitcase (Disco Wrist), a swirling, chiming tribute to unattended luggage, comes very close, as does the superb Let Your Dogtooth Grow, a blast of dreamy alt-rock with an evil edge.

The Orielles are good at making music sound human – there’s something very alive about vocalist Esmé Dee Hand-Halford’s slightly wobbly, English-accented singing style, while the guitar sound on Sunflower Seeds has more feeling than some bands’ entire back catalogues. A couple of things about Silver Dollar Moment are hard to understand: a) what they’re actually singing about (most of the time); and b) why they decided to open the album with Mango, which sounds like a bad Britpop song. Mostly, though, this album is a masterclass in how to produce guitar music that feels anything but futile: by making it specific, strange and superior to much of what’s come before.


Rachel Aroesti

The GuardianTramp

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