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Constellations, Third Album by Moulettes: Modern Folk and Powerful Orchestration

13/06/2014 12:50 | Updated 12 August 2014

I first clapped eyes on the Moulettes many years ago at The King's Arms pub in Salford. I remember the clever woodwind and brave harmonies. The Moulettes were engaging and unusual. I never heard anything about them again until they released their third album, Constellations, last week. So, I couldn't wait to have an evening to listen to the whole album, start to finish. Back then in Salford the Moulettes didn't disappoint, and they do not disappoint now. Constellations is a musical treat. This album is all the best bits of Bjork and Midlake, but then it's something moody, intense and modern as well.

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Begin Glorious Year: this first track is full of straight-up siren-esque harmonies. It's a douse of traditional folk and pagan mystique.

Track two, Constellations, is full of bold beats. This is more electro than its preceding track, sometimes the vocals are close, other times they are far off in the distance. The track really is a constellation, the only steady presence seems to be the rhythm, which battles on through the turns on top. Everything else is a varied and ever changing canopy of different moods.

In track three, beat, bass and words power along together, while the strings, mysteriously, drift in and out. Deep synthesised vocals (they could be male or female) get heavy in the background, and they sound great. When the track was finished, I saw that it was called Lady Vengeance, and wow, it really does sound like I imagine revenge would.

The Night is Young is a brilliantly twee, continental, romantic episode - like something from Amélie. It's charming, and the shifts into the 'umpapa' waltz sections are quickly followed by the return of melancholy. The vocal is sweet but bitter. This is every lovers parting song.

The guts and balls come back quickly though where this band is concerned, and the driving Between the Mirrors is a deep, pulse-grabbing bridge to the second half of the album.

Lady of the Midnight Sun is full of mystical harps and reverb-heavy vocals, reminding me a little of that Jim Henson movie, The Dark Crystal. But the ethereal feeling is mixed with an almost R&B beat pushing the track slowly forward. Somewhere in all this I notice the lyric 'A cathedral of salt and iron ore', and it calls me back to how stunning the lyrics are on this album too.

The orchestration reaches a fever pitch on The Observatory, and its midsection is a heady mix of Hitchcock strings and Polar Bear-style rhythms.

Keep it as a Memory (nice title), is the perfect end to this 'one listen' session. The sounds are broken down around the listener with some interesting panning as angsty and cinematic orchestration beats you senseless until the track comes back to strings and zithers. Then sirens go off, but they also sound something like wolves howling, and I wonder what the hell is going to happen next. Oh, it's finished.