Rose Elinor Dougall
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Rose Elinor Dougall

Manchester, England, United Kingdom | INDIE

Manchester, England, United Kingdom | INDIE
Band Alternative Pop


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"BBC Review"

Pop music comes in many and varied forms, but sometimes it’s just whatever makes you crackle. Such is the lesson Rose Elinor Dougall took from her split with The Pipettes, the all-female Brighton troupe with which the 24-year-old songstress made her name. The group made polka-dotted 50s pastiche their stock-in-trade, adhering to a strict pop formula which made them fun for a while but a kitsch-laden drag in the long run.

Perhaps sensing a best-before date drawing close, Dougall bowed out from the band in 2008 with ambitions towards launching a solo career. Two years later and she’s tipped her hand with Without Why, a debut which has felt a long time in coming in spite of the not-insubstantial amounts of hype which have preceded its release. As a re-examination of what it means to be a pop writer, however, you’d have to say it’s been worth the wait.

An adult-oriented record of a very organic sort, Without Why is free of the crass signifiers that moniker sometimes brings to mind. That nothing on here lingers long beyond the four-minute mark signals an overall pop-ness of intent. Likewise Lee Baker’s production, which is as clear as a bell and sympathetic to a tee. But it’s also a more complex beast than that, drawing on Brit-folk greats like Sandy Denny and the chiming grace of Felt songwriter Lawrence Hayward for its ambitious blueprint.

Take Stop/Start/Synchro, for instance, which combines celestial harpsichord with a choppy, Motown-ish rhythm section. What’s nice here is how the hooks aren’t welded shamelessly on – rather, the song is allowed to breathe and develop towards its wrenching lyrical climax, neatly evocative of that maudlin feeling that comes at the end of a relationship: “I was once beautiful to you”. Even Another Version of Pop Song, apparently conceived of as a bridge between Dougall’s songwriting work with The Pipettes and her solo material, contains not a single sugar-coated chorus lick in sight, instead emphasising a two-note guitar riff in subtler and more affecting ways.

Find Me Out is beautifully realised, all lowing strings, fluttering percussion and just-so touches of double bass. Third Attempt’s brushed, gossamer arpeggios don’t even bother to crescendo – the pop equivalent of leaving your socks on during sex – but the track is revealed as courageous, the lyrics capturing a moment of uncertainty which resurfaces throughout: “Was this person not the answer, really just a question in disguise?”

Tracks like Watching and the Penguin Cafe Orchestra-esque Goodnight steal a march on still-less familiar territory, marking out Dougall as a serious talent and Without Why a beguiling portrait of an artist unbound. - BBC

"Pitchfork Media Review"

If we categorized albums in the same way as movies and books, Rose Elinor Dougall's debut, Without Why, would be filed under "romance." All of the songs are focused on love and relationships; the arrangements are wistful, melodramatic, and lovelorn. Her voice, elegant and disarming in its directness, conveys a gentle heartbreak even when she's singing about being in love. The sound is sweeping and slick, but also springy and sharp, a contrast similar to early-90s recordings by Morrissey and the Sundays. Even the darkest moments of the album sound like a girly fantasy.

Dougall has come a long way since her tenure as a singer in what can now be considered the classic line-up of the Pipettes. She had a few songwriting credits while in that band-- most notably the singles "Judy" and "Dirty Mind"-- but here she's developed into a mature talent with a knack for melancholy balladry. Though she has entirely abandoned the girl-group conceit of her previous group, there's a thematic and stylistic continuity between those old songs and the music with her new backing band, the Distractions, on Without Why. Basically, it sounds like she's grown up a bit.

Dougall has moved away from the playful, sassy tone of the Pipettes, and embraced a deeper, more earnest approach to thinking about relationships, appropriate for someone entering her mid-twenties. Whereas she previously sang songs mainly about infatuation and the politics of casual dating, she's dealing with stronger, more complicated feelings now. Even the most assured songs, like the joyful "Fallen Over", grapple with some degree of ambivalence and insecurity. In "Find Me Out", she's desperately afraid that her partner will discover she's not good enough; "Another Version of Pop Song" has her warning a suitor, "Please don't say that it's forever, or that we belong together/ It's all I really know for now." As much as the songs evoke the butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling of cinematic romance, there's a stubborn insistence on dealing with love as realistically as possible. It's like young adult fiction with the anxious soul of droll British comedy.

Aside from the gorgeous finale "May Holiday", the best tracks on Without Why have already been released as singles over the past two years. "Stop Start Synchro" opens the record with sparkling glamor; "Another Version of Pop Song" is a dizzying, effervescent swirl of keyboards and strings. "Fallen Over" is propelled by an assertive beat and bold guitars, while "Find Me Out" goes to the opposite extreme with its serene sadness. There are some fine album tracks here-- "Carry On" and "Come Away With Me" are especially good and single-worthy-- but as much as the record is consistent in quality and tone, it's hard to avoid concentrating on its obvious peaks. Her slowest songs are her weakest, though they add a necessary dynamic to the album's sequencing. "Watching" and "Third Attempt" start off with an appealing stillness, but they grow stagnant and static before reaching their conclusion. It's not that those songs are bad-- they both have fine melodies and good ideas-- but that they drag on a bit too long. It's a minor problem, though. As a whole, Without Why is an unusually confident and expertly crafted debut.


Another Version Of Pop Song 7" (Scarlett Music) 2008
Start/Stop/Synchro (Elefant Records) 2009



Following her departure from The Pipettes in 2008, Rose Elinor Dougall has quietly been recasting herself as a psychedelic-folk chanteuse par excellence.

Two limited singles have demonstrated a breadth of inspiration, from the timeless, melancholy of Sandy Denny, through the leftfield melodicism of Smiths-era Morrissey to the primitive-futurism of Broadcast.

Rose spent most of 2008 isolated in her bedroom with just a casio-tone for company writing a bunch of songs that she hoped “could convey that the music and lyrics were vital but allowed you to engage with the songs on your own terms�.

These swirling cascades of dream-pop started appearing on Rose’s myspace for a short while before they were taken down and replaced with some fleshed out versions, courtesy of a collaboration with Brighton producer Lee Baker. On these recordings a melee of instruments including dulcimers, harps, drum machines, strings and horns colluded to create a sonic foundation for Rose’s unmistakable alto.

Her debut 7�, Another Version Of Pop Song, the title, a reference to her girl-group past and the song itself a declaration of breaking these ties, received praise from many quarters. Second single, Start/Stop/Synchro raised the ante further with publications such as the NME, Pitchfork, The Guardian, The Sunday Times and Under The Radar bringing the plaudits.

An album, Without Why is due in 2010