The End Forever follows quick on the heels of Lana Del Rey’s quirky Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, and Rose Tiger’s debut is very much cut from the same idiosyncratic cloth, working on the eccentric underground sound that could just as easily wind up on a Wes Anderson soundtrack as it could headlining a gig at Hyde Park. But that’s where the comparison largely ends, because unlike Del Rey’s more American flavours, Rose Tiger boast a more pastoral element to their work, and by doing so, will likely harness a fanbase across ages and genders. Indeed, listening to it on this occasion, I was pleasantly reminded of A Trick of The Tail, the 1976 album that served as Phil Collins’ debut as vocalist for Genesis, and measured in that compartment, ‘Abby’s Song’ sounds like a spiritual successor to Collins’ yearning ‘Ripples’.
The band have openly admitted to enjoying 1970s rock, and the most obvious indication is ‘Camelia’, which is both the poppiest song on the album, and the most soulful, carried by the clusters of a brass instrument playing in the background. It stands out on an album that is fairly guitar-heavy, whether it’s the unabashedly romantic ‘When You’re Here’ or the impressionistic undertones heard on the guitar (a strat?) on ‘Could Be A Fantasy’. The centrepiece is ‘Unusual Trouble’, a polished piano number that shifts gears halfway through the tune, and transforms into an operetta Andrew Lloyd Webber might have written in his younger, less conservative, days.
But there is a lot to enjoy on the album, whether it’s the catchy rocker ‘Meet Me At The Cemetery’ or the sexual urgency of ‘Automatic’ (gently bolstered by an electronic device, albeit one that eludes me at this time of writing). Not that this album is quite as refined as either Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd or A Trick of The Tail, but the impish, ragged quality gives this debut a different flavour that will serve the trio when they perform it live. The other trademark of the band is that it started off as a solo venture for Cyprien “Wendy” Jacquet, who was joined by Irene Gonzalez and Domi Hawken when he moved to London (Jacquet is French.) How the band divide their creative responsibilities I have yet to discover, but there’s no denying that the trio sound united on the album, and the finished work is less concerned with the thematic hook as it is with the exuberance of performing as one voice. Considering the complexity of the music, the trio are wise to expand the live outfit to a five-piece band.
Where the band will go with their second album, only time will tell, but it might be wise to swim further into the lake of 1970s rock. Maybe a slide guitar somewhere in the mix, or a shrill falsetto playing over a symphony of brass and string? Who knows. The End Forever is an album of terrific energy and invention.