[sic] Magazine

Brigid Dawson & The Mothers Network – Ballet Of Apes

Used to standing her ground as John Dwyer’s melodic counterpoint in (Thee) Oh Sees, Brigid Dawson now turns frontwoman in this surprising debut alongside The Mothers Network. Is that a single mother, multiple mothers? Who know?! Punctuation, people! Much clearer is who forms this gender-bending, cross-border network: Mikey Young (Total Control/Eddy Current Suppression Ring), Mike Donovan (ex-Sic Alps), Shayde Sartin (ex-Fresh & Onlys), Mike Shoun (ex-Oh Sees), as well as various members of Sunwatchers.

Impressive credentials in place, it’s time to get jazzy. Dawson is as varied a focal point as her accompaniment, a sultry chanteuse over wandering basslines one moment, her folky flutter betraying her English roots the next. Smoky reeds set the eyes at half-mast during early standout “The Fool”, simmering organ and light distortion keeping things contemporary. The title-track jumps in at the deep end in turn, meandering sax pitted against Dawson’s off-the-wall lyrics, the solemn intonation of upright bass and scanning kosmiche just about tying it all together. Just one of Dawson’s bag of tricks though, the lazy-days dream-pop drones of “Trixxx” are much more hypnotic before they too disintegrate into the free-form.

Ironically less easy to pigeonhole, the luxurious and lengthy “Heartbreak Jazz” lets Dawson become a honeyed cabaret singer, wah-fired guitar effects clashing in a retro-futurist vision of what might drip out of the tannoy in lounge bars on intergalactic cruise ships. The cocktails on offer here are strong and classy – Martinis perhaps with a psychedelic side order. In this vein, the deeply odd “Carletta’s In Hats Again” conjures Nico at her melancholy best, a choral lullaby filling the vast spaces between the percussive shuffle, the distinctly fey folk of “When My Day Of The Crone Comes” at the other end of the spectrum, olde worlde acoustics custom-made for ears like those of Jack White. Yes, Ballet Of Apes is pretty cool the more you get to know it. Just don’t go expecting it to put out on the first date.

Best track: “The Fool”

~Ballet Of Apes is released May 22nd 2020 via Castle Face.~