A nice release, this, from the ever-reliable 4AD label.  Pixx is a new signing – and it’s immediately obvious why she’s piqued 4AD’s interest.  The music will please both 4AD purists and listeners new to the label.  Pixx is a pseudonym for 19 year old Hannah Rodgers from London.  I’ve been intrigued by comments which I’ve read comparing Pixx to fellow 4AD band Cocteau Twins and the likes.  For me, they’re not the greatest comparison, though there’s a faint whisper of the Cocteaus’ sound here.  Moreover, there’s a Mick Karn-esque bass on lead track ‘Fall In’, but the vocals have more in common with Dido than Elizabeth Fraser.  Musically, the instrumentation is more similar to Dif Juz.

So what does it sound like?  When I first played the EP, I was immediately entranced by the aforementioned bass – but it’s actually the chord sequence and the haunting melody which captivates my attention.  Overall, it’s vocal-heavy with some nice harmonies, synths which drive the sound, a drum machine and a gorgeous sounding guitar doused in chorus effects.  ‘Fall In’ has an eerie subtext which sounds unlike anything I’ve heard in quite a while.  Post-Florence Welsh, it’s rather gratifying that female singer-songwriters don’t feel that shouting as loud as they can into a microphone is the way to develop their music; the stripped-back nature of Pixx’s sound leaves lots of room for vocal dynamics and it’s wonderful, for instance, to hear breathing between the lines of some of the verses.  ‘Fall In’ also has some ghostly otherworldly voices at the start of the track, like hushed conversations in a room full of echoes.

I think one of the really positive things about this EP is how I’m consumed by it when I’m supposed to be writing about it!  It has that effect – the almost ethereal sound simply makes you stop what you’re doing, put down your pen and simply listen up.

‘A Way To Say Goodbye’ continues the theme laid down by ‘Fall In’, but here the chorus is dominated by multi-layered vocals and a wonderful synth hook.  I also love the sudden ending.  ‘Flee’ is possibly the most ‘normal’ sounding track on the EP – those harmonies and the vocal delivery are sensuous.  It’s actually a sad song, which wouldn’t sound out of place in a late-night jazz club.  “I would offer us some time apart, but you know you’d only go and break my heart”, she proclaims.

‘Deplore’ takes us back into the minor-chord territory which dominates this EP.  It’s a nice bookend to an excellent record.  I’d love to hear what Pixx does next, particularly across the length of an album.  A future star in the making?  Make up your own mind, but I think we’ll be hearing a lot more of Pixx.

Paul Lockett

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