The Power Out

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The Power Out
Electrelane-ThePowerOut.jpg
Studio album by Electrelane
Released 26 January 2004 (2004-01-26)
Recorded April 2003 – May 2003 at Electrical Audio, Chicago, Illinois
Genre Rock
Post-rock
Length 43:25
Language English, French, Spanish, German
Label Beggars Banquet
Electrelane chronology
Rock It to the Moon
(2001)
The Power Out
(2004)
Axes
(2005)
Singles from The Power Out
  1. "On Parade"
    Released: 6 October 2003
  2. "This Deed"
    Released: 26 April 2004

The Power Out is the second album by English rock group Electrelane. It was released on compact disc and vinyl in 2004 by Too Pure. It was recorded in Chicago, Illinois in early 2003 by Steve Albini. The album's lead single, "On Parade" was a hit on college radio.[1] The album did not receive mainstream commercial success, despite receiving mostly positive critical reviews.

Background[edit]

Signing with Too Pure[edit]

The band's first release, Rock It to the Moon received a lackluster commercial response due to limited distribution, promotion and exposure. The band signed with Too Pure, a member of the Beggars Group for their follow-up. As drummer Emma Gaze explained, the new label had "so many people and departments, and we knew, purely for that reason, that there would be more response to the new album."[2]

Critics also commented that Too Pure was a good fit for Electrelane, as many of the other label's acts (such as Stereolab and Th' Faith Healers) shared similarities with the group.[3][4]

Production[edit]

The band brought in producer Steve Albini for The Power Out. Initially, the band had contacted him to try to get a spot on the All Tomorrow's Parties (ATP) music festival. The roster had already been filled, but Albini wrote back to the band telling them to contact him if they wanted to work with him in the future.[2] The band went to Steve Albini's Electrical Audio studio in Chicago, Illinois and recorded the album in a break-free three-week period from April to May 2003.[5]

Electrelane still handled production duties, while Albini was in charge of recording and mixing. With Rock It to the Moon using overdubs and Pro Tools mixing, Albini was renowned for frills-free, all-analog recording, generally keeping effects to a minimum; he used these techniques on The Power Out as well.

The Music[edit]

The Power Out is perhaps best characterised by a "starling and unique" "stylistic hodgepodge".[6][7] The major stylistic themes of the album, which often overlap, are foreign languages and literary references.

The album opener, "Gone Under Sea" is sung entirely in French. The following song, "On Parade" was inspired by Radclyffe Hall's 1928 lesbian novel, The Well of Loneliness. A large part of the lyrics in "The Valleys" come from Siegfried Sassoon's 1917 poem "A Letter Home" (from The Old Huntsman).[2] The title of the fifth track, "Take The Bit Between Your Teeth," is another reference to The Well of Loneliness. The literary references continue on the sixth track, with "Oh Sombra!" The song's Spanish lyrics are a sonnet by 16th century Catalan poet Juan Boscán Almogáver. Finally, on "This Deed" the German lyrics are from Friedrich Nietzsche's Die fröhliche Wissenschaft followed by the inclamation "Hände hoch!" (or "Hands up!"). The lyrical content reflects a departure from the band's earlier album, which was almost entirely instrumental.

Musically, the album is less diverse than the lyrics, with Electrelane playing within their usual Krautrock-inspired range, although the songs could be considered to be more within conventional pop structures than their predecessors. Perhaps the most notable musical departure from Electrelane's norm is the inclusion of the Chicago a cappella ensemble for "The Valleys", to invoke a 1960s gospel hymn to the song.[6] A saxophone and a piano are used in the two closing tracks.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[8]
BBC Collective (7/10)[9]
Calgary Sun 3.5/5 stars[10]
Drowned in Sound (8/10)[11]
Entertainment Weekly A−[12]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[13]
The Observer 4/5 stars[14]
Pitchfork Media (7.5/10)[15]
Stylus Magazine A−[16]

Critical reception to The Power Out was generally very positive. While the band's use of other languages and literary references may have been referred to as gimmicks, they were regarded as gimmicks with merit.[17] The album was more focused than its predecessor,[3] with Emma Warren of The Observer, considering the album to be "a great example of how the band have transformed themselves from a sparky but essentially limited instrumental four-piece into the major league" and the New York Times calling it "impressive".[18]

Track listing[edit]

All songs were written by Electrelane, except where noted.

  1. "Gone Under Sea" – 3:12
  2. "On Parade" – 2:35
  3. "The Valleys" (Electrelane, Siegfried Sassoon) – 5:20
  4. "Birds" – 3:53
  5. "Take the Bit Between Your Teeth" – 4:58
  6. "Oh Sombra!" (Electrelane, Juan Boscán Almogáver) – 2:58
  7. "Enter Laughing" – 3:42
  8. "This Deed" (Electrelane, Friedrich Nietzsche) – 3:24
  9. "Love Builds Up" – 5:24
  10. "Only One Thing Is Needed" – 4:33
  11. "You Make Me Weak at the Knees" – 3:24

Some versions of the album contain the following bonus tracks:

Personnel[edit]

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label Format Catalog
United Kingdom 26 January 2004 (2004-01-26) Too Pure CD PURE 142CD
12" LP PURE 142LP
United States 3 February 2004 (2004-02-03) Too Pure, Beggars Banquet CD PURE 142

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Listen2This: The Charts". Entertainment Weekly. 19 March 2004. Retrieved 14 February 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c Draper, Jimmy (15 September 2004). "Electre'lady land: All-woman U.K. band Electrelane mess with our heads". San Francisco Bay Guardian. Retrieved 14 February 2008. So it's not entirely surprising that, despite an initially lackluster response, America is coming around to Electrelane's unusually eclectic sound. 'It was sad that the first album seemed to get lost, but obviously we didn't have lots of people working with us [to help get it heard],' explains Gaze, who cofounded the band with Susman in 1998, over the phone from her Brighton home. 'Now we've got the Beggars Group – they're huge. They have so many people and departments, and we knew, purely for that reason, that there would be more response to the new album.' 
  3. ^ a b Phares, Heather (2004). "The Power Out". Allmusic. Retrieved 14 February 2008. 
  4. ^ Edwards, Tom (2004). "Electrelane: The Power Out". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 14 February 2008. 
  5. ^ Carew, Anthony (23 March 2004). "Electrelane find their voice". Neumu. Retrieved 14 February 2008. 
  6. ^ a b Ott, Chris (2 March 2004). "Electrelane: The Power Out". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 14 February 2008. 
  7. ^ Warren, Emma (1 February 2004). "Electrelane: The Power Out". The Observer. Retrieved 14 February 2008. 
  8. ^ Allmusic review
  9. ^ BBC Collective review
  10. ^ Calgary Sun review
  11. ^ Drowned in Sound review
  12. ^ Entertainment Weekly review
  13. ^ The Guardian review
  14. ^ The Observer review
  15. ^ Pitchfork Media review
  16. ^ Stylus Magazine review
  17. ^ Miron, Dan (26 January 2005). "Electrelane: The Power Out". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 14 February 2008. 
  18. ^ Sanneh, Kelefah (3 April 2004). "Singing in Four Languages, Revealing in None". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 February 2008.