One Little Plane may be alone at great heights and on some sort of journey, but that is where the similarity ends to anything remotely aeronautical. British-based singer/songwriter by the name of Kathryn Bint is behind the cute name, and while Until is not exactly a roaring jet engine she could still be a pioneer of riotous slacking, depending on what song might be playing at the time. That is, to sum up what musical style she proffers is to say that she combines the nonchalant gum-popping cool of The Breeders with an acoustic girliness, taking on elements of Belly or Juliana Hatfield in the pure vocals and often lovely use of melody.
Needless to say, for a Brit, this ends up sounding mostly rather American. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. At least, not at first, as the nomadic album opener ‘Rise’ hypnotises by chanting its own mantra and setting the standard for the majority of what’s to come, relying as much on simplicity and childlike innocence as it does on inspirational ’90s female musicians. It’s all quite appealing, dropping into a meditative state, a whimsical drowsiness. However, it does take a while to get off the ground, and by then the vocals start to sound a bit affected – like Bint’s voice doesn’t and shouldn’t belong to her – and the minimalism and seemingly deliberate laziness in her singing becomes a bit monotonous.
Indeed, the standout tracks are those that appear to have had more thought put into them, such as the beautifully wistful ‘Summer Stream’, reminiscent of a dream you wish would never end, evoking more emotion than its predecessors and creating a movement in its arrangement that puts it well into the mile high club. It’s a particular treat as it represents a sweeter and more natural sound, a highlight on an album by The Sundays perhaps. ‘The Snails Are Out Tonight’ is just as magical, its pretty folk edge making everything around it seem quite sluggish in comparison, twinkling like unexplained lights in an otherwise rather normal looking sky.
All in all, Until is an album for which a handful of songs are really noticeable first time around, and it takes another few listens to appreciate the rest. It’s certainly more enjoyable than an afternoon in Terminal Five but not so good as to become the only record you’d want to crash land on a desert island with.
[Text; June 30, 2008]
Tagged one little plane