Anyone browsing for ‘Talmont’ on a popular search engine will be met with a similar set of results: Tripadvisor reviews of guest houses and seafood restaurants, articles on ‘France’s 155 Most Beautiful Villages’ and quaint photos of a fortified seaside town perched on the southwestern French coast. The images of well-trodden walkways and eroded Romanesque buildings are a far cry from South East London, where the other Talmont – a dream-pop three-piece who met whilst studying music together at Goldsmiths – first started out. Yet the beguiling atmospherics and edge-of-the-earth feel of this dainty French coastal town are tangible in the mood of the threesome’s debut album.
Laid Under Heavy Lights is an enticing and eclectic record with assorted threads of influence running through it like the variegated wildflowers that weave their way through the brickwork on Talmont-sur-Gironde’s cobbled streets. Meandering through an intricate landscape where traditional pop stylings meet trip-hop rhythms and a melee of intricate guitar lines flirt with percolating synths, Talmont create an ambient, malleable space that feels worlds away from the small London studio where the band laid down the album’s groundwork.
Tracks like ‘Running Up To Meet You’ and ‘Space Between Us’ are understated and gauzy, with a softness to their instrumentation that smoulders in the background against Martha Gibbons’ sprawling, stately vocals. ‘Backseat’ is a little dancier, with a pulsing bass-heavy beat that treads closer to traditional pop territory, while ‘IDATMT’ takes a slightly darker tact, as susurrant synths underpin a more cavernous, faraway-sounding intonation.
‘Moving Further Than Before’ also marks itself out as a highlight. The most upbeat of all the album’s offerings, sampled horns and twinkling instrumentals juxtapose the track’s slightly more sombre lyricism, and undercurrents of trip-hop drums and jazz-influenced rhythms surge slightly below he surface.
The real life town of Talmont looks a little bit like a world stuck in the past – all rustic facades and time-worn whimsy. But the landscape mapped out on Laid Under Heavy Lights is a lot more forward-thinking. Re-affirming the band’s as artists with a sound much larger than their Google search results would suggest, this is a debut hurtling to the future whilst dabbling in the idyllic ambience of the past.
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