Carrot Bone Records (label)
15 October 2021 (released)
15 October 2021
What small stones may start an avalanche. For transatlantic songstress Louise Aubrie, it was a brief line in a song by influential Belgian songwriter Jacques Brel that gave rise to her fifth album Antonio. “The title is inspired by a line from the Jacques Brel song 'La Chanson De Jacky': "Même si on m'appelle Antonio" - "My name would be Antonio". It's a brilliant fantastical song about fame being fleeting, and imagining how life might be in the future: being washed up, reflecting on the glory days!!”. The concept surely applies to those firmly entrenched in the entertainment industry but can also be appreciated by the 15 seconds of internet fame generation, or really anyone reflecting on their “peak” years. Funny how a line from a 55-year-old marching tune seemingly plucked from a musical can spur on an entire indie rock album in 2021.
The sound of the album is nestled in that wistful nostalgia chic that hit a high in the 80s with The Smiths and The Pretenders and reached another peak in the early 2000s when bands like The Killers resurrected the style and gave it a makeover. Aubrie's sound is the genre's third wave employing infectious danceable beats and melodies with one foot in the pop world and the other in something darker. The singer splits her time between New York and her native London and her voice reflects it. She has the in-your-face, matter-of-fact delivery of NYC and the undeniable accent of the British Isles. In fact, her obstinate sing-song brings to mind Dolores O'Riordan of Cranberries fame. Aubrie has an impeccable backing band of stylistic brethren including Boz Boorer (musical director and co-writer for Morrissey), Roger Joseph Manning Jr. (keyboards for The Killers, Beck, Morrissey), and Andy Woodard (musical director and drummer for Adam Ant) who also produces.
A no-nonsense rock record trims the fat and on Antonio, a single word is all that is required for every song title. 'Ours' bops with a quirky 80s keyboard lick and minor chords. Driving drums, tambourine and dramatic strings join for a full-court press in line with hits by Brandon Flowers and co. 'Bang' pushes this formula even further with Halloween synths and a relentless disco beat care of drummer Andy Woodward. Aubrie tells torrid tales of sex and money colliding “He knows he's lucky to have her with her legs up to the sky/And she's happy in his arms as he's counting all the tips/She's fixing up her red lipstick”. A perfect dark nightclub banger.
The single 'Last' has a Pretenders vibe with a modern punchy drum base. Aubrie calls out to her muse Antonio with questions and desires. Those trademark chorusing guitars warble and shimmer behind her longing vocals. A reflective trumpet hook weaves through 'Hard' as a stomping down beat drives this peppy jumper. The album closes out with the “smarter on the other side” tune 'Lies'. Aubrie reflects on the veneer of falsehoods on which we can prop ourselves up. Ending the album by bursting the bubble.
Antonio is a fitting heir to the sound of the post-punk jangle-pop that was birthed by Morrissey and Hynde. And yet her vocal delivery doesn't mimic one or the other, it forges its own path. The tracks are tight pop-rock that teeters between mopey melancholy and hip hubris.