Rose Coyote is a bass driven semi-electronic project made up Lydia Rose (Vocals) and Dave Hagan (Beats, Vocals, Engineering). “Clever Girl” is their 4th album in a year, and their first original recording. It is one of those few albums that is almost genre-less, so thematically and musically universal that it would be impossible to pin a certain time and place on it. The duo’s post-punk quasi-space-pop and indie experimental sound, is quite unlike any other. This awesome record transcends the boundaries imposed by genres to generate something unique and utterly engrossing. There are firm melodies and stabs at structured songs, but each is interspersed with transistor-radio-styled vocals, slow-burning instrumental meltdowns, and bass-bumping claustrophobic production. The wry and explicit lyricism that punctuates “Clever Girl” appear as slight, ghostly whispers in between flashes of improvisatory genius and squeezed-out bursts of combustible energy. You can feel these intricate parts, like small grams of magnetic dust moving toward each other.
From a technical standpoint, the appeal is immediately recognizable. The various studio wizardries that Hagan employ here – ranging from an abundance of metallic keys, deep basslines and subtle electronic music influences, to a multitude of beats and other cutting and pasting of effects – makes it rather difficult at first to really pinpoint any one significant essence of Rose Coyote’s music. They simply have too many.
This duo slowly reveals its uncanny ability to get under the listener’s skin with each consecutive listen. Appropriately, the album can be set stuck in an infinite loop through the tracks that bookend it.
The hypnotic repetition these tracks possess really lets you submerge yourself into the band’s dark, spacey universe that’s bound to hold you captivated, if you’re willing to let it. Together with the mysterious and at times downright spine-tingling background instrumentation, the ideas Rose Coyote spout make Rose and Hagan’s state of mind almost tangible.
This makes listening to “Clever Girl” a mentally demanding, but ultimately very rewarding experience. Rose Coyote prove themselves to be rather essential listening for lovers of music that trades the unexpected paths for adventures in unexplored areas of sound.
Although each piece on this album sounds spontaneous, it’s the kind of work developed when a musical partnership becomes so synchronized with each other that they do not even need the familiarity of melody or time signature to have a sense for how the piece should sound as a whole.
Right from the opening track, “My Story”, the mood, the softly sung lyrical embellishments, the respective verses and choruses, as well as the course through the subdued melodies, turns into a catalyst of emotional sustain-release. “1/2lb Nugg”, promises something grittier, more propulsive bubbling just under the surface.
But things get groovier as the album progresses. “A California Song” which features a perfect combination of vocals between the singers, delivers an intense ride where “Rose Coyote” leans into the sheer rhythmic force of their music. “Badass Id Trip” shows an affinity for quaint sounds melding into one perfect, precise piece of music, within a distillation of futuristic experimentation and stoner purity.
The more haunting and intriguing songs, form me, come at the end of the recording, with “Split Personality” and “Drop The Bomb”. A total of six minutes of comforting wall-of-sound basslines which the vocals follow into a confident, haze-drenched wallop of a bliss.
Rose Coyote exhibit boldness in the construction and execution of their music, in a short, precise album which is equal parts inventive and masterful. It’s interesting, it certainly creates a mood, and the vocals float over the top in a way that’s hypnotically soothing. Rose Coyote tell peculiar stories and paint quaint moods. They remind you of something you’ve never heard before. Now go and figure that one out!