[sic] Magazine

The Left Outsides – All That Remains

Never let it be said that Cardinal Fuzz don’t know how to throw a curveball. The Left Outsides are Alison Cotton and Mark Nicholas, both formerly of The Eighteenth Day Of May if you can remember as far back as 2005, and All That Remains is their fifth LP under the name and it’s a surprising one for a number of reasons. First up, it’s a Cardinal Fuzz oddity in so much as it’s probably the least essential of their catalogue for some time, so too is it the least hard-hitting in the psychedelic mould by some distance. It’s also unusually short for one of their platters at just 35 minutes, and we haven’t even got around to talking about The Left Outsides’ continued penchant for variety yet. All That Remains consequently takes in post-folk shuffles, 60s psych, slowburn ballads, sparse soundtracking, even a spot of garage, as well as good-old-fashioned indie, the Walthamstow duo continuing to mix it up on vocal duty and delivery too.

Inevitably this all leads to quality control issues. Cotton’s vocal is simply too thin in places, neither exciting nor emotive enough and it ends up doing some of the arrangements a disservice. Coming from a number of directions at once, however, it’s elsewhere put to better use on a track like “All Those I Danced With Are Gone”, combining atmospherically with piano and viola. Cotton’s viola is, on the other hand, a delight throughout, its mournful cries pushing the fuzzy daydream “The Unbroken Circle” out to chillier pasture, for example, and also playing a major part in the really quite glacial and vaguely psychedelic melancholy of “Naming Shadows Was Your Existence”. Altogether warmer though, “Down To The Waterside” is a barely-there exercise in acoustic strumming and summery harmonium drone, Nicholas’s vocal laidback in the extreme. Later coaxing a credible Guy Garvey impression out of his larynx, hushed indie vibes come to a head amidst birdsong and strings on the pretty “Take Me Home Again” while the guitars are given a proper dusting down by the downright energetic jangles of “Clothed In Ivy, Obscured By Dust”, the cinematic groove ending up not unlike a lost Limiñanas boogie. Half a dozen of one and definitely six of the other then. All eyes on the QC next time please.

Best track: “Clothed In Ivy, Obscured By Dust”

~All The Remains is released 21st May 2018 via Cardinal Fuzz (UK) and Feeding Tube Records (US).~