Blood Relatives - Deerheart (3 stars)

Impressively executed debut of anthemic folk-pop and barbed chamber-indie

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Blood Relatives - Deerheart

(Comets and Cartwheels)

They may have ditched their zoological moniker, but the Glasgow folk-pop gaggle formerly known as Kitty the Lion are still preoccupied with animal – and animalistic – matter, if their debut album Deerheart is anything to go by. Now trading as Blood Relatives, the band is fronted by striking vocalist Anna Meldrum, and also counts members of electro-pop monarchs Prides (formerly Midnight Lion) among its number.

Deerheart sees Blood Relatives hone their knack for barbed chamber-indie, rousing folk and melodic twee(t) pop – they may have discarded the leonine designate, but there are still creatures all over the shop, especially of the avian variety – including opening harmonic aria, ‘Fowl Mouth’, piano-rousing singalong ‘Duck!’, the brooding alt-pop of ‘A Murder Of Crows’, and acoustic ditty ‘Bird Flu’. As suggested by the latter two titles, there is latent menace, and cadavers, (and word play) at the heart of Blood Relatives – perhaps unsurprising, given their crimson moniker – and the album is riddled with bones, joints and dismembered hands and hearts (‘Bone Idol’, ‘Dead Hip’).

Musical comparisons with the anthemic folk-pop likes of Admiral Fallow and Olympic Swimmers are inevitable, but Blood Relatives are equally redolent of classic 80s / 90s Scottish pop acts like the Pearlfishers, Thrum, or the Wild River Apples. Deerheart is an impressively executed debut, with notable credits: it was produced by Scottish pop overlord Paul Savage (King Creosote, Admiral Fallow, The Delgados) and mixed by Iain Cook of Chvrches and The Unwinding Hours.

While its avian tendencies work well, its highlights are rooted in land and sea. The Regina Spektor-esque ‘Cold Fish’ is a fine slow-burner (‘he had no fingers to hold mine, brine-soaked, a soft spine’), the title track is a galloping melodic-rock delight, and recent single ‘Dead Hip’ is the best example of Blood Relatives’ charming and persuasive way with a middle eight: it sees Meldrum’s vocals dive and soar, and hints at greater things to come.

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