Je Suis Animal
"Self-Taught Magic From a Book"
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For their début album, Oslo’s Je Suis Animal decided to lock themselves away in a community hall in the woods of central-Norway, where, for a week, they snacked on gingerbread and tea whilst besieged by some curious local bears! Luckily they had thirteen amazing, deliriously infectious songs to keep them company, and here they are!! Self-Taught Magic From a Book is wild and wonderful and chock-jammed with a similar calibre of energetic pop as typified by the C-86 era, with loads of great girl-boy harmonies and the occasional drone and/or Velvets moment tossed in for good measure. Each song on the album is an intriguing female-sung vignette, backed by jaunty rhythms, eerie keyboards, and guitars that jangle, strum, swoop, stab, psych-out, and make us smile!
1) Secret Place
2) The Mystery Of Marie Roget
3) Beginning Of Time
4) Indifferent Boy
5) Rousseau World
6) Hotel Electrique
7) Indoors Out Of Doors
8) Good To Me
9) It’s Love
11) Fortune Map
12) Across The Line
13) Sparkle Spit
"Thought I’d begin by saying it goes without saying, but then I remembered how much of a pedant you were, always giving me crap for starting my raves so unnecessarily, anyway I gave this some thought and decided the hell with it! I’ll proceed as intended. It goes without saying that one of the principle tenets of Friendly Fire’s charter is to report on jams that are soulfully engaging and yet that’s not even the half of it, nevertheless these Nords are rocking our gourds splendidly.
Opening cut, ‘The Secret Place’, contains no intro, suggesting that maybe these kids had been rocking this number all night and the engineer just happened to lean over and press record. It’s a pretty sweet way to kick off a pretty cool album. Three guitars interlocking horns like bighorn sheep, resurrecting The Soft Boys’ excellent ‘Goodbye Maurice and Steve’ from fantasy gay sitcom Coventry.
The eternal pumping fug, jangle and chug.
The rest of the disc is one of those universally beneficial group mergers that take place between high performers: The Crayon Fields, Panel of Judges, The Cannanes, Electrelane, Look Blue Go Purple. Whole lotta harmony, horns, honey, hypnotism and krauty, repetitive rhythm in that. Takes a lot of personality to pull off the complex regurgitation of influences, but Je Suis Animal manage to do all that and not do it disgustingly. ‘Hotel Electrique’ could get Brian De Palma out of a pair of women’s drawers and into a pair of binoculars faster than you can say dressed to kill. And basically that’s all I really feel like saying right this second." Shane Moritz, Friendly Fire
"Je Suis Animal took all the interesting subjects of their arts degree and spun them into an album. It's the cinema geek in-jokes told through the strings, wind and melodica-esque cameos that turn this happily Norwegian pop into something suited to a silent film score.
Self-taught Magic from a Book
is Lost and Lonesome's fiftieth release and has the right balance of lyrical storytelling and dance-around-your-room juice. The ascending foreplay of lofty vocals and gutter deep drones stir up a sense of haunting. Fight scene -worthy swells of colliding instruments, always catching you by surprise, can make a song's ending almost a relief. The swinging romantic pendulum and glitches of restlessness give away just as much story as the lyrics do.
'Hotel Electrique' invites you to play hide-and-seek in the peculiar hotel featured in the 1908 silent film of the same name; but it gives away the secret that there are strings to make it all work. Then Edgar Allan Poe's 'Mystery of Marie Roget' is investigated and remains uncracked. It's not surprising the film clip to this song is a sweetly produced silent flick." Isabel Dunstan, www.threethousand.com.au
"If a band formed with the single idea of making music that depicts winter in a grand Parisian house in the 1920s, it may well be this band. Hailing from the verdant country-as-coastline of Norway, four-piece Je Suis Animal seem to be on a mission to make pop music that refreshes like a tumble in snow after a sauna, and the realisation that you’re naked in the dark woods afterwards. In this world of increasingly messy cross-pollination, their commitment to holing themselves away from the formulaic and ‘popular’ and making a self-recorded aural postcard from a world built of their obsessions is a wonderfully realised thing.
Taking their musical cues from mid-‘80s Glaswegian bands like The Shop Assistants and sharing Broadcast’s embrace of the warm ambiance of ‘60s psychedelic pop group The United States of America, Self-Taught Magic…
is, almost unbelievably, the 50th release from local label Lost And Lonesome, and it’s another firmly thrust feather in their increasingly feathery cap. This one inspiring an odd mix of images; sepia-tainted travel photography, ouija board gatherings, tea parties and Paris between the wars. There is little else like it around yet you can hear sounds that have made it within the walls of the snowy hall in the forest where they recorded the album, glued together by some perfectly judged and simple production. Teutonic harmonies, winding pocket watches and a penchant for story-telling; it’s easy to see how the UK and Scandinavian pop fans have taken to them so keenly and how they stand apart on the festival lineups.
Songs like Amundsen, Rousseau World
and the single The Mystery of Marie Roget
evoke a world that has little to do with daily stresses and reality and a lot to do with intricately arranged shadowy guitar pop. Even amongst the heartfelt pledges of love, milkshakes and secret notes of the ruggedly rocking It’s Love, Self-Taught Magic…
is an album that possibly, unknowingly, makes for glorious Europhilic escapism.
The overriding feelings here are ones of intimacy, safety and adventures indoors with windows onto cobblestoned streets — perfect for our increasingly north-European winter. With these harmonies, warm chords, combination of nationalities and sense of style, plus the news that they intend to tour later this year, it’s unlikely any unrequited love will be unrequited for long." Andy Hazel, In-Press, Melbourne