Rosa Mota

Wishful Sinking

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One of the many "fell between the cracks" U.K. groups from the early '90s -- hardly an afterecho of Madchester or shoegaze, but nothing to do with Brit-pop -- Rosa Mota already had some good attitude to burn by the time its debut album was recorded. The God Machine's Robin Proper-Shepard had been an early supporter and was thankfully on hand to help bandleaders (on vocals and guitars) Julie Rumsey and Ian Bishop direct and focus the quintet's darker-shaded psych/goth efforts. Bishop's participation in Ultra Vivid Scene has a definite echo in the group's ear for arrangements and instruments beyond the expected -- Bishop adds clarinet along with another member, while Rumsey also plays flute, adding just a touch of extra dreaminess here and there like contemporary Mercury Rev or Blind Mr. Jones. That said, songs like "Thintro" and the fantastic "Touched" burn with a sharp, downright exultant power that's mighty fine rock & roll straight up, at once a product of its times and just to the side of the spotlight. Examples of how the group pulls off the latter quality are evident throughout -- the way that "L'Egoiste" works a bit with post-Pixies/Nirvana loud/soft/loud dynamics without actually sounding like said bands, or how Rumsey and Bishop blend their singing to suggest equivalents to groups like Prolapse or th' Faith Healers. (The addition of queasy trumpet to "Little White Horse" in particular could be a secret precursor to some of Prolapse's later efforts.) The highlights blend all their strengths to a peak, as on "Hopey," a subtly complex number, the type of song that throws in some tempo changes without making a to do and builds to a couple of screaming climaxes instead of just one (or none). That the group also finds time for a wonky demi-tribute to both the B-52's and brattiness (sorta) in "Unrequited Love Song" is part of the fun.

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