Pumarosa – The Witch
Pumarosa have a flair for the dramatic. While gothic, 4AD artists from the '80s may be the most obvious touchstones, Pumarosa imbue this icy style with a lot of modern electronic flourishes (and, on Priestess, even a little brass). They paint intense, vivid soundscapes, tapping into visceral feelings of alienation, but still manage to breathe a certain warmth into a genre that is famed for its cold aloofness.
Pumarosa have been on the live circuit for a couple of years now, and the confidence in their material is clear on The Witch. Their on-stage prowess has been lauded, but transferring that to the studio is not always easy. However, with the help of quirky, London-indie producer Dan Carey, the bombastic, theatrical dynamic of the band remains largely intact.
From witchy, ethereal opener Dragonfly, it's clear that this is an album to bask in, to let envelope you, rather than appreciate from a distance. Almost every track is longer than it needs to be – allowing for extended intros, bridges, codas. This brings a sense of spaciousness to the music; each tangent is followed down its respective rabbithole; whether it's the intermittent electronics of My Gruesome Loving Friend or the sprawling, Caribou-esque indulgences of the title track, the record never rushes the listener. Sometimes this can get a little meandering (Red being the worst offender), but it meshes perfectly with the 'industrial-spiritual' ethos of the band.
Frontwoman (and visual artist) Isabel Munoz-Newsome steals the show with her haunted-chanteuse vocals, generally floating and ephemeral, but always powerful. The arrangements complement and flesh out her tales of love, sex and identity. While some elements are almost certainly designed for the live experience (the captivatingly manic ending of Honey, for example), this album still serves as a fine introduction to one of the UK's most exciting, new bands.
Listen to: The Witch, Priestess
Buy Pumarosa - The Witch on Double LP/CD from Norman Records