This review was originally published on The Doughnut.
This British folk duo are as quirky as they are talented. There are ten songs on their self-titled debut album and every track is perfect. Folk rock is not everyone’s cup of tea but it’s difficult to imagine how anyone could help but enjoy this music. My home is a regular place for visitors and they are used to a variety of musical styles to be playing from my sound system yet this album has received more interested enquires and nods of approval than most I listen to and review. Not empirical evidence of Yeti Love‘s abilities, I’ll admit, but good enough for me to be certain there is something special about this South London pair.
The musicians, Peter Hamilton and Dave Sears, call their hybrid sound ‘alternative-rogue-folk-rock’ and this, along with the strange title of the duo, tells you something of the character of their songs. Their eclectic to say the least and definitions are ‘tip-of-the-tongue’ but somehow always elusive and full of contradictions.
There is the folk element of course. Catchy, well-played mandolin permeates the album giving an REM-like feel at times and the banjo makes a cool appearance in the title track ‘Yeti Love’ which superbly avoids sounding like ‘Duelling Banjos’ for which I’m grateful. My favourite is the bluesy Dylan-esque harmonica on ‘Blood on her hands’ which, while I was scratching my head trying to figure out what on earth the song was about, also had me digging my own harp out to pick out the riffs (for fellow mouth harpists, it’s in G which comes as no surprise, eh?). Yet their music is almost more like acoustic rock than folk. Certainly I wouldn’t expect an Irish air of ‘Drunken Sailor’ to suddenly spring up here. There’s too much edge to both lyrics and music.
Then there’s some exquisite ballads. ‘Switchblade Angel’ begins beautifully ethereal until the music powers in as strongly as the lyrics themselves. Even then it switches to mystical middle section with effects which sound like they’re lifted straight from Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. It’s disquieting but extremely powerful. ‘Saints of White Lines’ is a melodious, mesmerising ballad which is as passionate as it is convincing. This is a song I can imagine audiences are deathly silent for during concerts. It demands that you can hear a pin drop. ‘Deep’ is another beautiful ballad which, rather oddly but typical for this oddball duo, features the strongest and perhaps only real electric guitar playing. I still haven’t quite got my head around that. You can hear this track here:
And, of course, the Spanish influence of Hamilton’s upbringing with spanish Aeolian modal riffs in ‘Lonely Road’ and ‘Olios Do Sol’ which somehow never stop sounding British nevertheless. Or the way the final track, ‘Dear John’, is based entirely around a strong, pulsating tonic pedal note which doesn’t lift for a moment yet is somehow immensely exciting and a perfect way to end the album.
All this results in an album I can, and will, be playing over and over again, soaking in the coolness and the weirdness in equal measure but never, ever, quite understanding what’s really going on. But I don’t really need to. Like the mythical Yeti monster itself, you can enjoy the mystery, enjoy the danger without ever needing to know the truth.
The self-titled debut album from Yeti Love is available from the 21st September.