Simon Raymonde

Blame Someone Else

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Simon Raymonde's first solo album after the demise of the Cocteau Twins is a lush, fragile affair. Raymonde's voice comes across like a mix of Elliott Smith and Lilys' Kurt Heasley, and these 12 singer/songwriter-oriented songs are a perfect match for his delivery. With bright, organic tones and optimistic arrangements, Raymonde balances equal measures of pop charisma and moody emotion. Raymonde's debut is not unlike Jon Brion's Meaningless, in that it's quite clear that he's just as adept at managing a mixing board as he is at delivering a chorus or hook. Twinkling ambient sound effects nestle snuggly alongside jazzy drums, guitars echo off into the horizon, dance beats add punch and energy, and notes chime so elegantly that one can't tell the instrument of origin. Raymonde smartly employs a bevy of friends and past collaborators, including famed engineer Giles Hall and ex-Spiritualized drummer Damon Reece. As one would expect, ex-Cocteau Twins bandmates Robin Guthrie and Elizabeth Fraser make appearances; Guthrie contributes guitars and studio knowhow and Fraser provides beautiful additional vocals on "Worship Me." Though Raymonde's own ballads are the highlights, his covers of Scott Walker's "It's Raining Today" and Television's "Days" are fascinating new takes on old classics. One hopes that Raymonde finds more time for recording solo material outside his duties running the fantastic Bella Union label, so that more riches like those on Blame Someone Else might see the light of day.

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