Trwbador’s early records established their distinctive pallette of sounds: simple guitar patterns and glockenspiel melodies against off-kilter beats, Angharad van Rijswijk’s pure, quiet voice against unearthly noises, a slow-motion kaleidoscopic collison of folk, pop and electronica.
Their new EP marks a dramatic step forward in the development of their sound, through the simple yet devastating expedient of combining all these elements in the same songs, rather than leaving them side by side eyeing each other nervously. Four entrancing and perfectly-formed songs, like spiderwebs on an autumn morning, glittering, delicate and surprisingly strong. ‘Sun in the Winter’ sets an alienated vocal against robust beats, somewhat in the manner of Leftfield’s Original; ‘Once I Had A Love’ offers pure folk with an electronic counterpoint; ‘Red Handkerchiefs’ plays with multi-tracked vocals, building from an a capella opening to infuriatingly catchy overlapping melodies; ‘Onions Make Me Cry’ is simply lovely – reminding me of Dubstar, in the best possible way – and simply far too short.
If anyone ever makes a film of Russell Hoban’s The Mouse and his Child – and, more importantly, gets it right – then Trwbador should do the soundtrack; their songs call to mind musical boxes and stop-motion animation, and they have the same emotional power, the feelings of loss and sadness – they may seem child-like at times, but never childish. This record manages to be pure pop without sacrificing any of the quirkiness or homespun authenticity that has marked their career so far. Highly recommended.
EP available from trwbador.co.uk or on Spotify.