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Page France - Hello Dear Wind

2006-10-23 14:34
If you know any long-haired, unshaven twentysomethings with a Sufjan or Bonnie Prince Billy T-Shirt and a certain glint in their eye, you can impress them by giving them a copy of Hello Dear Wind. Chances are they’ll either be your best friend forever, or try to invite you to their weekend commune.

There are times on Page France’s rather ‘alternative’ outing that you can picture the guitar-led singalongs of joyous worship sessions, a bearded and bespectacled twenty-something “elder” taking the compound’s youth group though endless repeats of simplistic, almost hypnosis-inducing phrases.

Maybe that’s just because on one song in particular the line “Jesus came up through the ground so dirty” is repeated ad nauseum – as if it were an indoctrination rather than observation. In any event, the image of a Jesus covered in mud and surrounded by firejugglers remains throughout. And it becomes a bit grating.

Not that the album doesn’t have its pretty phrases. In fact it seems to have too many to be anything less than pretentious, Heaven forbid. And despite a pleasant, earnest lead vocal delivery, and some sweet, jingly jangly soundschemes textured with chimes and layered echoey feedbacks of various frequencies, there’s evidently such a thing as “too simple” when it comes to a collection of songs.

The idea, presumably, was to link a series of irritatingly catchy vocal phrases with clever and restrained musical submotifs. But these seldom take a turn for the truly inspired on a musical level, and it becomes all rather academic in the end, with a bit too much beard and tweed and too little alcoholic pluck.

Anton Marshall
If sermonising was poetry, then Page France might be the leaders of some bizarre southern US cult.


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