Heligoland have taken the unusual step of moving from Australia to France and their third record attempts to convey the experience of this journey (both literally and mentally). Listening to the jangly, ethereal soundscapes on offer, it’s not hard to guess that former Cocteau Twin Robin Guthrie is on production duty.
The first thing to point out is that Heligoland’s frontwoman, Karen Vogt, is no Liz Fraser but then she doesn’t try to be and she certainly doesn’t need to be. Her vibrato is full of yearning from beginning to end. For album highlight ‘Mapping Your Desires’, she and her bandmates move gracefully from quiet melancholia to a real heartache of a chorus. A similar formula is evident through the album but it’s a good formula too and only the soulless could fail to be moved by the gorgeous title track, where Vogt evokes poignant despair over a bed of glistening, dream-like guitars.
Some may say the arrangements are a little pedestrian – Guthrie has made a career out of this for a quarter of a century now – but the band are able to impose their personality on an impressive set of songs. Furthermore, in Vogt, they have a classy vocalist; able to draw emotion from every syllable she sings.
Cocteau Twins, Annie Barker