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coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 31 - 04/30/99
The Loch Ness Mouse
Flair For Darjeeling
Perfect Pop

In the soups section a couple of moons ago we had a review of a live spectacular in Oslo involving this still young quartet, and told that their first album was just around the corner. And yes, one of those rare "days between winter and spring that make a season of their own", to quote The Mouse, Flair For Darjeeling finally arrived. At first I was somewhat disappointed. Having heard most of the songs several times live, some of them seemed a bit tame studiowise compared to the raw live edge. But the album is a grower and during the last weeks it has turned into my most indispensable album so far this year. Of course, studio recordings means opportunities that are impossible for a drums, bass, two guitars and vocals live act. The Mouse is fully aware that the CD is a different medium and the recordings include quite a few subtle details. The boys of the band have also brought along some friends for extra vocal harmonies, some more guitar solos and the odd flute and bass clarinet.

The songs fit roughly into three categories: noisy and happy power-pop with the twin guitars of the Åleskjær brothers up front, a few more contemplative tunes and some in between. Though the quiet ones include more keyboards and stuff, the guitars still dominate. Of course the always steady and dynamic rhythm section is also very vital to the final result. Most of the songs show that The Mouse has been inspired by the quirkier pop groups of the British Isles. To me, lead vocalist Ole Johannes' pronunciation most of the time sounds as British as can be for a Norwegian. It's difficult to pick favourites among the 12 tracks, by now I love them all. Anyhow, Double Whammy!, 15th Floor and Vespa 50 easily fit into the Top 5 power-pop songs. The former deals with hazardous activities during happy summer childhood days, namely to loose the bolts and tip a big old crane into the lake. If only all nostalgia could be as fun as this! (In fact it isn't based on their own experiences, as the interview in this moonth's desserts section reveals.) The Breve and Hayland are probably my tranquil favourites. The Breve is Danish for teabags, a subtle one! It includes some excellent vocal harmonies and jazz-like chord progressions, probably the greatest surprise of the lot. Hayland is a homage of homecoming to the place you grew up, beautiful! All in all, The Mouse's lyrics deal a lot with "Faces Around Me", personal experiences and the close environment. Who else could get away with a song about the closing down of the local dairy? The only exception seems to be Edgerton Underwater Strobe Camera (well, and Double Whammy!) inspired by the book The Loch Ness Story by Nicholas Witchell about a gang of boys looking up Nessie, you know, the Loch Ness ...Monster.

After living with Flair For Darjeeling for a month, I really look forward to hear some of these songs live again. Especially the ones meant for jumping up and down and singing along to. In the meantime, let's have another cup of Indian tea and listen to the album yet again.

World wide distribution: Voices of Wonder, P.b. 2010 Grünerløkka, N-0505 Oslo, Norway. Or; simply mail Perfect Pop.

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You may also want to check out our Loch Ness Mouse articles/reviews: 11-22", An interview with..., Bamboo (Love Is Not Cool), Flair for Dardjeeling - Deluxe Edition, Friends And Fenders EP, Key West, New Graffiti, Overnite, The Mouse that roared!.

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