It’s 21 years since the former Angela Penhaligon first graced our shores and, somewhat unnervingly, around 85% of those of you that are actually reading this article are wondering exactly who she is. This is where the likes of Wikipedia prove their value and, rather than spend around 400 words explaining everything I know about Piney Gir to you, I’m just going to listen to the album.
Moving away from the lo-fi Cowgrrl electronica that she’s more usually associated with, the songs that open ‘You Are Here’ are a bit harder edged musically than what I’ve heard from her previously, sounding as if Piney has been taking songwriting cues from Lush’s Miki Berenyi although without the traditional swathes of effects-laden 12 string guitars. Some things don’t change though, and second track ‘Puppy Love’ is all about walking the dog, literally : ‘all he wants to do is walk around on the street where you live’. Having lost none of her taste for some verging on twee eccentricity, we then move on to ‘Peanut Butter Malt Shop Hearthrob’ which sounds exactly as the title suggests, a pastiche of 50s doo-wop given a glitzy twist. It works, helped along by a nifty-sounding sax break. Then ‘Dreamcatcher’ revisits the angular world of a decade ago, with muscular bass and hi hat both present and correct.
‘Variety Show’ is a bit of a show-stopper, a duetted ballad (I think the male voice is her current drummer) that’s an unashamed love song, and there’s that sax again at a crucial moment. ‘Careaway’ is a tuneful surf pop b-side, ‘Little Cop’ has a hint of grunge about its low slung atonal guitar solo, and ‘We’ll Always Have Paris’ is a near reverential paean to Nico, the one song on the album that will have more or less everyone who hears it commenting, ‘that’s a bit like the Velvets’.
Closing number ‘Evensong’ is a gently paced dreampop ballad, sort of like Beach House if they had formed in about 1962, and it’s a fitting end to a lively thirty or so minutes from a performer whose not inconsiderable career has consistently remained beneath most people’s radar although it’s likely that’s just how Piney Gir would prefer things. You’re probably actually going to like ‘You Are Here’.