The Orielles: Tableau review – cherry-picking genres to make a rich feast of musical ideas

The West Yorkshire trio flit from R&B to funk to dance to indie in their ambitious, disorienting fourth album

The Orielles have always valued artistry over a quick buck. Having emerged from West Yorkshire in the 2010s as a trio of preciously talented teens, they are more interested in geeking out over niche recording techniques than in chasing chart success. Their old-school appeal has earned them a cult following entranced by their slow-burn evolution into a psychedelic jam band.

The artwork for Tableau
The artwork for Tableau Photograph: PR Handout

On their fourth album, Tableau, the exploratory, ambitious side of the band’s music has never been more clear. Many of the songs pick through various genres, magpie-style, subverting expectations: Honfleur Remembered is easy-listening R&B delivered with the light electronic touch of the French band Air, while the bassline of Airtight walks a line between frenetic funk and intergalactic hyper-pop. Likewise, The Room opens as a dance track, but immediately morphs into skittish indie, evoking the skinny-jeaned guitar bands of the 00s.

The darkly cinematic Beam/s, Tableau’s lead single, towers above the rest of the album. But even this song is sprawling and slippery at nearly eight minutes long, shifting from shoegaze to grunge to bubbling emo-electronica before, in its dying minute, settling on distorted, disorientating house.

Not everything is so dark: Darkened Corners offers a placid, Damon Albarn-esque consideration of the open-mindedness that has brought them to this point. “Is this a structure, or a pattern … knowing that anything can happen?” asks singer/bassist Esmé Hand-Halford. It’s a question and a temptation – who wouldn’t want to feast at a table so richly laid with ideas?


Jenessa Williams

The GuardianTramp

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