Rebekah Higgs "Odd Fellowship
Nova Scotian Rebekah Higgs certainly likes to stay busy. As well as releasing music under under her own name, she fronts ‘Electro-Glam’ rockers Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees, not only that, but also this former theatre student dabbles in painting, acting, founding festivals, and creating her own range of jewellery.
‘Odd Fellowship’ is the follow up to her 2006 eponymous debut. This sophomore effort (this time produced by Brian Deck, last seen with Modest Mouse and Iron & Wine) is packed with multi-layered and playful music, always richly textured with swirls of surprise strings and electronic effects and loops, and is sometimes mystifying. Higgs voice is quirky and cutesy; High in register with perhaps a touch of Joanna Newsom stirred in there. It suits the majority of these meandering unconventional pop songs. Quirky fairytale pop of opener ‘Little Voice’ laces layers of vocals over its sunshiny bounce of a rhythm. Elsewhere the Mock-Motown of unrequited love anthem ‘Gosh Darn Damn’ is a charming slice of multi-layered pop, morphing and adding interest until a choir of Smurfs join on backups, and its these occasionally gleeful naive moments that can vex.
‘Youth & Beauty’ ditches the twee persona and merges electronics and stunning guitar loops, before the chorus inverts it which a touch more rock velocity declaring “You’ve got your plans, I know you’ll find a way to get me out of my clothes again”. End-of-the-road break up ballad ‘Miserably Together’ is a sparsely arranged success, its sadness and dejection palpable, whilst at the other end of the scale, closer ‘Drunk Love’ is a surprise full-on smoulder of a Rock song.
She only truly misfires on the likes of the overly twee ‘Girl with the Sweater’, and also ‘Stick & Poke’ which begins in earnest but gradually speeds up to an irritating near frenzy of shrill, head-spinning, repeated loops; its like a major fault in a toy factory. Or Teletubbies in a blender. Thankfully it does eventually end.
Higgs revels in showing off her toybox of sound surprises, and the quirky, unobvious melodies keep things interesting. For the most part the songs are solidly written, thoughtfully constructed, and never short of melodic interest. ‘Odd Fellowship’ sounds like it has been laboured over, and grows with further listening, but the Smurfs really have to go!