So, Gaggle are a 22 odd member, all-woman choir. But this isn't a Woman's Institute, more a menagerie of Bjorks. After winning rave reviews for their live shows, From the Mouth of the Cave is the debut album from the all female choir headed by Deborah Coughlin. I'll admit I'd not heard of Gaggle prior to writing this review, however I'll certainly be listening to them afterwards.
The first track entices you in, the throbbing intro before the opening words "come with me". I feel like a sailor listening to the sirens' song and the track builds and builds into an almighty crescendo. Happily I wasn't lured to the rocks though and I found myself coming out the other side excited by what is to follow.
There are electronic and pop influences a-plenty in this album to sit beneath the sumptuous harmonies created by the Gaggle choir. Mix that with some excellent lyrics, some feminist, some cutting satire, some damn right frightening (at least for a male reviewer!) and you have a heady brew.
The now obligatory broadside at the financial markets is present and accounted for in Power of Money. Gaggle must be applauded though for closing out with the chilling sample of the comments made by American news anchor Larry Kudlow in the wake of the Japanese Earthquake at the close of the track:
"The human toll here looks to be much worse than the economic toll and for that we can be grateful."
Yes, he really did say that.
From the frightening side of things is Liar. The catching out of and murderous revenge against a lying boyfriend. The vocals sound suitably menacing above a beat that puts me in mind of a pagan sacrifice. By the end of the track you are left with no uncertainty- these girls are not to be messed with. Larry Kudlow should be afraid.
Other highlights from the album are Army of Birds and Crows. The sound of so many voices working together is something that is really unusual in pop music. Yet the union of so many voices on these tracks really work well without losing their toe tapping appeal.
The switch from live act to studio recording isn't all plain sailing though. Congo in particular is one that is forgettable, or at least lost in the translation onto CD. But it would be too much to expect a perfectly polished studio performance from an act like this. This is very much a concept piece, not something that is by the numbers and for that Gaggle are to be applauded. What the album does very successfully though is showcase what must be a wonderful live show and one that I will be looking out for in the coming months. If you want to listen to something a little different this summer, then you can't go far wrong with From the Mouth of the Cave.