Offering an eclectic mixture of spoken word and dance beats, Audiobooks’ new album Now! (in a minute) speaks to the potential of the band’s future projects.
Given the name Audiobooks you’d perhaps expect a story behind the band’s origins, and they certainly don’t disappoint; the duo, comprised of artist and musician Evangeline Ling and producer, mixer, and studio engineer David Wrench, who’s worked with the likes of Let’s Eat Grandma, Caribou, and Bat For Lashes to name a few. They met at a mutual friend’s party and not long after set to experimenting in the studio putting Ling’s short fragments of stories, saved as text messages in her phone, to sound. And so Audiobooks was born.
Now! (in a minute) offers their full-length debut after a string of enticing singles and their Gothenburg EP, and across the thirteen tracks their combined peculiar and beguiling genius shines through.
Narrating tales of the ridiculous, the humorous, and the sordid, alongside astute observations, the delivery feels part performance art, part sparky, wonky-pop enshrouded in heady distortions. It isn’t surprising that some of the tracks were improvised, as moments on the record effervesce with frenzied, reckless shrieks and chaotic shrill melodies and droning that create these sublimely unsettling atmospheres, constantly catching you unaware.
There’s a somewhat ominous air that lingers throughout the record in the brooding synths and the measured vocal delivery, which exists alongside an undeniable offbeat sense of humour. At the beginning of ‘Hot Salt,’ we hear Ling laughingly utter “too inappropriate for a pop song” and on ‘Grandma Jimmy’ as well as ‘Call of Duty Free’ Ling’s ability to flit between the voices and personalities of the characters within her tales is purely brilliant.
The versatility of their sound is astounding; Ling’s vocals soar with a certain grace one moment, and the next her particular manner of spoken and sung vocals oscillate between enacting her protagonist’s accents and shrieking with visceral potency. Intertwined with this, Wrench’s compositions offer infectious dance beats that instantly embed themselves under your skin, like on ‘Friends in the Bubble Bath’ or ‘Dance Your Life Away’, and elsewhere craft pared-down, considered synths and guitar riffs that bubble forebodingly beneath Ling’s narrations. And then in amongst all this are the piercing notes, the otherworldly vocoder vocals, guttural sound effects, like on ‘Spooky Algorithms’, and wavering, warped sonic embellishments.
The closing track ‘Pebbles’ is dramatically atmospheric, with emphatically sustained synths growling underneath Ling’s measured, mournful vocals. Each twist and turn of the record purveys a sense of slightly unhinged, intriguing mystery entwined with an undeniable off-kilter sense of playfulness and sonic discordance, comprising a strikingly strong album from the relatively new band – heralding what’s sure to be exciting things to come.