Mechanical Bride, AKA old songwriter and self-taught musician Lauren Doss, made quiet but confident waves back in 2008 with her debut release, a collection of beautiful songs called Part II: EPs.
On the mini-album was a version of Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’, an affecting cover that seemed coated in icicles, more a haunted nursery rhyme than the original pop smash. The track received plays all over the airwaves from Radio 1, 2 and 3 to BBC6 Music and XFM and anchored this exquisite mini-collection which gained her critical acclaim as an exciting and talented new British songwriter as well as comparisons with the likes of PJ Harvey, Bat For Lashes and Laura Marling.
Living With Ants, Mechanical Bride’s debut album proper, is a defiant step up and sees her song writing blossom from the stark, black and white songs on Part II, into fully formed techni-colour flourishes. “I wanted to find the beauty and colour from dark places that exist inside and outside of ourselves, the title ‘Living With Ants’ means learning to co-exist alongside niggling issues and worries that we maybe create for ourselves”. Living With Ants is a stronger, more vibrant record and is testament to how much Lauren Doss has grown as an artist.
Lauren grew up surrounded by music with her mother working as a professional singer performing with bands all over the world during the 1970s and early 80s. There was even a home recording studio set up in the front room where Lauren witnessed first hand some great musicians at work. And it was while Lauren herself was singing with Larrikin Love as a vocalist that she was recommended to Transgressive who immediately signed her and put out Mechanical Bride’s debut
EP ‘In The Throes’ in late 2007.
As well as studying for a degree in music and visual arts, Lauren also managed to fit in an internship at Hans Zimmer’s production company, headed by the hugely successful Hollywood film score composer, responsible for scoring everything from Rain Man to Pirates Of The Caribbean. It is not surprising then, to find a filmic quality to Mechanical Bride’s music, each song telling its own story filled with weird and wonderful characters. The main character being Mechanical Bride, who was created by Lauren to describe the relationship between record players and the records they play; a mechanical partner with which they share their lives with.
Making music has always been a way to escape for Lauren and the tracks on Living With Ants make up a patchwork of tales and fables and, much like the haunted fairy tales on Part II, the new album is rooted in escapism and fantasy. There is a strong animal theme on the album, with some of the songs and even the album title,
having animals in its name. As with the opening track ‘Magpie’, which begins with a sweeping piano, joined by Lauren’s gloriously stunning voice, reminiscent of singers form a bygone era. Laced with sighing strings, soft trumpets and lightly brushed drums, it slowly builds to a beautiful crescendo.
‘Young Gold’ (You Stole My Heart)’ is the kind of song you think you’ve heard before, it sounds so familiar. An uplifting ode to a friend or lover, the delightful melody intertwines with the horns and delicate beat, all masterfully produced with care and restraint by Nick Abbott and Lauren herself. Upcoming single ‘Colour Of Fire’ out 9 May, is a stand out track with Lauren’s voice once again tugging at your heartstrings as she sings around a swirl of piano and strings.
‘Walk Into The Forest’ continues the animal theme with talk of monkey choruses, creeping through the trees. Traces of Rudyard Kipling style storytelling and jazz inflected strings are scattered over the piano led track, as Lauren whispers of finding colour in the darkest of places. This leads nicely on to ‘Demons’, a wonderfully catchy personal call to arms, with muffled trumpets, a travelling double bass and a skiffle-jazz feel, like something straight out of the Jungle Book or a song from the house band in Belleville Rendezvous.
Although Mechanical Bride shares her name with a dark American science-fiction play by Fritz Lieber Jnr, the sinister nature of Part II EPs has been transformed like a butterfly, into the fully formed songs with lush arrangements, filled with colour and playful lyrics found on Living With Ants. Lauren has stepped out of her black and white music box and embraced all the outside world has to offer, without losing any of the childlike sense of wonder and magic. Everything on the album was recorded using vintage valve equipment, which contributes even more to that fantastical sound, like that from a lost and forgotten world.