CARACOL ‘SHIVER’. THIS IS THE WAY POP SHOULD BE.
Caracol is the name of a French Canadian artist – née Carole Facal – (it is also the name of a Mayan archaeological site in Belize but don’t let that distract you)…and ‘Shiver’ is the very fine alt-pop single – and album title – that you might have recently heard being played by Jo Whiley and 6 Music. If you haven’t, however, do yourself a favour and watch the video for ‘Shiver’ below – it will cheer you up as you come to the realization that summer really is over and the rain is here to stay.
Hailing from Quebec, this is the first English sung album that Caracol has published. Initially I was skeptical – my knowledge of Quebecian singers to date is limited to that YouTube video of a 20 year old frizzy haired Celine Dion in a net puffball skirt singing ‘Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi’ for the Eurovision Song Contest. But fear not reader! Caracol has put the cool into Quebec (Quool?) with a pop sassiness that glistens over darker depths.
The album opens with ‘All The Girls’, a pleasant and whimsical melody that along with tracks ‘Strange Film’ and ‘Good Reasons’ plays on a psychedelic aesthetic with a nod to a Beach Boys-like preppiness . Following this is the excellent title track and then later on ‘Kiss of a Fool’, which similar to ‘Shiver’, is another delightful pop gem and sees Caracol exude a rocky sexiness to offset the bouncy choruses. Shhh! Don’t anyone tell Katy Perry about this track, as I can see her falling over her California-Gurls-era ice-cream boobs to do a cover version, replete with overt technicolour video and outfit (obvs).
When the French sung tracks come along on the album they do not jar – in fact they are excellent and the language really lends itself to her indie vibrato singing style, with ‘Blanc Mercredi’ and ‘Certitudes’, both powerful self-assured pieces of songwriting.
However, Caracol’s voice sounds the best on the deeper and darker cuts on the album such as ‘Sailor Boy’ – with only a paired down Ukelele backing track – and on the final track of the album ‘The Sabres of Truth.’ It’s here that you see the real roots that Caracol has drawn from – think Court & Spark/Hissing of Summer Lawns era Joni Mitchell for the vocal delivery and penchant for story telling. If Laura Marling is the Heir Apparent, Caracol is the fun, naughty sister who ran away, lived with abandonment and has now returned to regale us with her tales.
Review by Maya Fire, songwriter and lead singer of Wax on Water.