Helium – No Guitars – Review


No Guitars (Matador)
by Nik Rainey

Good thing I don’t pay much attention to what musicians say, or else guitar/vocalist Mary Timony’s press-kit comments about the new Helium EP would’ve sent me into a paroxysm of disc-smashing fury, mark-of-quality Matador imprint or no. “The record takes place in a forest long ago…” she begins. Danger! Danger! Call out the hounds and fire up the de-Tolkienizer! There’s a Stevie Nicks manqué in our midst! Okay, deep breath. Calm, calm. No Guitars ain’t as bad as all that. In fact, it’s pretty darn fine pop, luminous enough to stay the granola-folk gag reflex the stated concept, butterfly cover art, and song titles like “Dragon #2” and “Riddle of the Chamberlin” may arouse. Sure there’s pipes, Mellotron, and even a freakin’ gong on the thing, but there’re also some nice sonics, a couple of fine march beats, and (title notwithstanding) ample, ringing guitars throughout as Timony trips through the daisy-fields of her mind trilling post-mod madrigals. ‘Course, with Mitch Easter behind the boards (he’s the producer all the kids vied for in the days ‘fore jangle turned to sludge), it’s unlikely that it’d be anything but sumptuous. I’m a sucker for “Glass Onion” strings and goose-bumpy vocal swoops, and this baby has ’em in abundance. You schmoes with twelve-sided dice on your keychains will think you’ve found your dream chanteuse, but there’s plenty here for the rest of us, too.