With the release of the lead single 'Marble' back in May I promised that I would return to review their new album 'Topiary' once it had arrived fully-formed in The Listening World. So here I am. I wrote about their debut 'Sets and Lights' back in 2011 and couldn't find it in myself to give it a warm welcome. I still shake and shiver at the thought of it truth-be-told. Somewhere along the way I seem to have overlooked their 2014 collection 'Par Avion' and having quickly dipped in and out of it I can't quite bring myself to fully explore and absorb two ordeals in one sitting. You'll have gathered by now that I don't like Xeno & Oaklander. At All.
Here's the thing you see : Liz Wendelbo and Sean McBride make a truly awful noise. That they continue to be indebted to the 80's for their thin-and-crispy brand of electro-pop remains evident. That's not a bad thing. Lots of other acts have followed the same path and done rather well by it but it takes real talent to do it well and this pair just don't have it. Not a bit. Not even a smidgen.
Ms Wendelbo has a really horrible voice. She just can't carry a tune (if indeed their songs could be considered tunes at all) and Mr McBride's synth arrangements are tediously unimaginative.
There is one moment in this nine track set where I almost thought that they'd had a good idea. The opening salvo of 'Palms' has got a bit of balls about it. It rattles along rather well. With the vocal entry, however, all hope evaporates and what might have been a contender gurgles down the drain. Two instrumental tracks ('Topiary' and 'Topiary II) at least provide a little respite from Ms W's singing.
The album's off-key low-point is undoubtably 'Baroque'. It made me laugh out loud but not in a good way.