No Place Like Home


21st Century pop is curiously irrelevant: autotune, twelve "writers" on a single song, sensationalist yet skin-deep social commentary . . . with none of the joy, excitement and surprises of pop's lengthy heyday, from the Brill Building through the new wave era. Where did it go? That would be an apt introduction to an album of calculated throwbacks to a three-minute pop ideal . . . but No Place Like Home isn't that record. Tiny Global Productions doubt even Gemma could tell you where this collection of beguiling jewels came from exactly, each fully-formed, complete and satisfying, no two quite alike, and each devoid of Wet Leg or Dry Cleaning's crafty calculation, but with every bit of those acts' charm. The first single, "Stop", is based on an idea so simple that it's nearly unfathomable why no one had come conjured it earlier. Like toilet paper or a pair of scissors, the song feels entirely obvious until one ponders its late arrival. "Stop"'s motorik beat propels verses to a chorus of pure delight, bested by a bridge occurring so late in the tune that it comes across like a surprise second dessert. "My Idea Of Fun", a tale of frequent drunken regret, comes with a video of minimalist humor and visual brilliance. On other songs, Gemma channels acts Delta 5, Au Pairs, and The Raincoats, along with the humor of Ian Dury and a similar verité of London life found in the best of Madness. The more serious fare is equally compelling. "Rabbit Hole" projects a daring newness of young freedom, "Dance Of A Thousand Faces" veers into "Sprechstimme" and expands into a swooping chorus, the feel of which subtly conveys present-day tensions reminiscent of the Weimar era. "Tailspin" captures the dark feeling which comes burdened with real-time consciousness of a loss of control, while the album closer, "Frida", a tale of the loss of a dear friend manages to end in a guardedly upbeat tone. Gemma's debut album is sure to stir up deep interest.