I must confess I wasn’t too familiar with the world of futurepop until I heard about RedTails, who are modern exponents of this subgenre. In technical terms, if you have a penchant for synthpop, trance and dance music with large doses of sampling it’s fair to say you might like this band from the South of England. Then again, if you like cinematic hip-hop with strident female vocals fronting glorious pop songs as well, you would appreciate ‘The Start Of The Beginning’ even more.
The EP begins brilliantly. Set to a Morricone Western-style soundtrack-meets-Pearl & Dean intro-meets-hip-hop beats backing, the samples of Rick Carrington and Dan Alland provide the perfect platform for Colette Francis-Lee’s lively vocals. Add in Alland’s crisp live drums and you have a thunderous, dramatic opening. ‘Blinding Lights’ is better still. It begins with a thrilling hybrid of stop-start, quasi-military percussion and string samples but this is just a taster for a huge chorus where Francis-Lee shines again with a performance which speaks of heartbreak upon every utterance of the word “Goodbye”. Her lyrics are far more biting for the frenetic ‘Brighter Place’, however, virtually spitting blood as she screams “You’re a liar. You’re a cheat. You’re no good for me”. Once again, Carrington serves up an inspired stew of samples too. The last track, ‘These Times, These Minds’, begins with a trance-y intro, before the excitable beats kick in again. It’s the most danceable of the four songs but it still has an intelligence and soul which ensures this doesn’t feel like an anonymous DJ-plus-singer side-project.
Naturally, the true test of a band’s endurance is to see them perform over the course of a whole album’s worth of material but these four songs are both exciting and moving at the same time. Imagine early Portishead stepping into clubs and discos before recording their debut album and this would go some way to understanding the appeal of RedTails.
Portishead, Marshall Star