Playing mild no-wave jazz-funk-rock with excellent, inventive lyrics, Vancouver’s Animal Slaves comprise a singer, drummer and bassist. (These five songs were recorded with four guest guitarists.) The monotonous repetition is broken — if not relieved — by Elizabeth Fischer’s tremulous/yelping vocals, but this music is still hard to enjoy, coming close only on “Chinese Restaurant.” Recommendation: read the lyrics while listening to some other record.
Since 2002, Fischer has been the vocalist and lyricist of Dark Blue World. She co-produced the Vancouver quintet’s self-titled album and painted the gloomy and spectral artwork. Her chesty singing, which suggests the theatrical depth of Marianne Faithfull minus the ravages, sounds as if it could easily overpower the airy guitar rock at moments of chamberlike delicacy, but she exercises the control to remain solidly embedded in the music, rising when it waxes obstreperous and dropping back when it wanes gentle. Guitarists Ron Samworth and Tony Wilson manage the same dynamic feat, shaping the environment with exacting patience and stirring fury. Not all of Fischer’s lyrics wield as engaging an effect as, for example, “Melancholique,” but Dark Blue World is an altogether fine adult album.