Saturday, July 05, 2008

Album Review: "Tur Kaut Kam Ir Jabut" - Prata Vetra

OK, so it's several weeks since I was in Riga and bought this...but finally, here's the review.

From the crude cover art to the eccentric musical arrangements, everything about the latest album by Latvia’s top pop/rock band screams ‘experimental’. "Cela Dziesma" opens the album and starts slowly, and builds like a fairground ride. The 2nd single, "Ja Tikai Uz Manu Tu Paskakitos" took a while to grow on me but is now more instant, although has a kind of art-rock vibe about it.

"Bronza" has a bit of a motor racing theme (am I right?) and again takes a few listens to get into. It’s one of my favourite tracks although it does go off on a tangent and dare I say Renars’ vocals sound a bit weird.

"Atliek Nosargat" - which I’ve read somewhere is to be the third single - starts off sounding like a tougher "Maybe" but Renars’ falsetto is sounding like a cross between Prince and Thom Yorke. I couldn’t really get into this one though, for one reason only - it lacks a hook.

"Siama" is a rambling Eastern-style instrumental, whilst "Es Jau Naku" has an almost folk-song feel. The next track, "Ai Nu Lai" is the Latvian-language version of "And I Lie" which was the first single released from the album, although - and this is weird - that version is not on this album. Nevertheless the Latvian version is still appealing, although it was a bit of a shock in the beginning as it’s so different from their usual style.

"Par Podu" is a kind of psychedelic nursery rhyme singalong, and then we have the title track - lyrical, experimental, offbeat and even has a rap by producer Gustavo - and this time the experiment works.

Renars’ vocals are commanding over the (off-) beats on "Laikam" - sometimes this works but sometimes it doesn’t. "Vakardienas Trakums" has a little glimmer of the old Prata Vetra, before they went...weird. Again I quite like this track, which kicks off with a tango-style rhythm.

"Bedz" is back to the warped electro beats which personify the new Prata Vetra. This might become a live favourite though. I wish some of the tracks were stripped of the bleeps and studio trickery and I might have liked the album more.

The album ends with "Pamodini Mani" which has Renars singing quietly rather than in his usual excitable falsetto. This is quite a charming end to the album.
The verdict: It’s not a bad album, but the main problem with "Tur Kaut...." is that it’s different, but it’s so different that it isn’t the Prata Vetra we know and love anymore.

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