The U.K. four-piece Woman’s Hour takes its name from a long-running BBC radio show. The band’s sound may also have a familiar ring to it, because much of Conversations culls together elements of textured, intellectual night-pop usually linked to bands like Beach House and Lightning Dust. The cool, foggy atmosphere of the band’s debut LP is, really, nothing we haven’t heard before.
And yet, there’s an intelligence in starting with a recognizable sound, especially with a debut album. Listeners will immediately know where they are. And, more importantly, Conversations is not without its idiosyncrasies. To The End, for example, uses an almost comic-book-esque darkness to open the track, a bed of synths tip-toeing around in film noir detective-style. Then vocalist Fiona Burgess whisper-sings, her British accent coming in almost as a drawl. The night-swaying In Stillness We Remain and the minimalist computer ballad Devotion both rely on frantic percussion and hollow, jumping beats to pick up the pace of Burgess’s soft croon. And the title track moves around with the blunt, shiny sheen of someone who’s never made a mistake.
But take a song like the unassuming, harmony-strewn, Our Love Has No Rhythm. It’s a delicate balance of light synths and ecclesiastical vocal patterns. It’s impossible not to like, and yet, its overall easiness is frustrating. Like falling asleep and missing your stop on the train—it feels nice in the moment, but you’ll wake up realizing you now have further to go than when you started. The album’s final track, The Day That Needs Defending, features only a slight buzz underneath Burgess, building to an optimistic, festival-anthem climb. It’s a good reminder that, despite its heavy-handed influences, Woman’s Hour will still easily draw many listeners. Conversations is an album that will sink you into some kind of woozy hypnotic stupor, not pull you out of one.