Fiel Garvie – Leave Me Out of This

Fiel Garvie
Leave Me Out of This

A few months back, I was sitting in a booth in a run-down bar with an old friend that I don’t see too much of these days. Confiding in me through the cloud of drink, my friend, a man in his mid-20s whose musical allegiances were split equally between classic country and early punk, admitted to recently possessing the musical tastes of a teenaged girl from the mid-80s. For weeks, groups like the Cure, New Order, the Smiths, and the Cocteau Twins were all he had been listening to. Never much a fan of Brit-pop or indie-pop, he was understandably concerned about these recent developments. His confusion was unnecessary, of course, because most of the music he was listening to was worthy of respect and adoration, even by the most grizzled and haggard of steel-assed rockers. By the end of the night, my friend started to realize this, and was relieved of at least a part of the shame he felt for listening to OMD. Even after this beautiful moment of self-discovery, however, he would probably have a hard time enjoying Fiel Garvie.
Despite my initial impression, I have come to develop a deep affection for Leave Me Out of This. At first listen, Fiel Garvie’s shimmering, expansive pop songs were compelling but frequently undermined by the often annoying vocals of Anne Rekke. Rekke, a sort of cross between Bjork and Julee Cruise, can warble histrionically with the best of them, and usually in a breathy baby-doll voice that, when combined with the unimaginative lyrics, comes off as entirely too precious and twee. It really got on my nerves, and I doubt my aforementioned friend could get past Ms. Rekke’s vocals. The more I listened to Leave Me Out of This, though, the less the vocals bothered me. The lyrics were still not very good, but not only did the vocals grow on me, I came to realize that they were an integral part to why this record works. Rekke’s flittering, high-pitched tone operates as one instrument among many, its ethereality contributing to the shoegazeresque atmosphere of the songs.
Beyond the vocals, Fiel Garvie’s music impressed me right away. Resembling any number of British guitar bands from the last 20 years, Fiel Garvie ties in the shining guitar sound and strong pop sense of the Cure and New Order with the otherworldly sonic wash of the turn-of-the-last-decade shoegazer crowd, and throws in the twee trappings and faux-naiveté of the Sarah Records catalogue for good measure. The melodies are pleasant and soothing, the bass lines are simple but arresting, and the catchy guitar hooks are resplendent in echo, delay, and chorus. The songs are generally fairly slow, occasionally enough so to sound somewhat like Low, as in the song “Reeling as You Come Around Again.” The few attempts at rocking prove that it’s best for the band to stick to the slow and mellow. The songs glide by, tender and gauzy, like a distant ship glimpsed fleetingly through the fog. And to me, that’s a good thing.
Getting back to my friend, as I said before, I doubt he would be able to get past Rekke’s vocals. I’m sure that’ll be Fiel Garvie’s biggest impediment to widespread acceptance. If you do enjoy them, or are able to accept them within the context of the band’s sound, then you might just discover that Leave Me Out of This is one of the more notable pop records of the past few years.