The Waeve is the new project from Blur’s Graham Coxon and Rose Elinor Dougall. (I can’t be sure of the inspiration for the name, although it is also a fledgling US company making wigs! I’m bald, so I can say that.)
Coxon needs no introduction but I wasn’t certain of Ms Dougall’s lineage… so the internet reminded me that she was in The Pipettes. They were an ‘indie-pop’ group who had a few minor hits and two well-received albums, although the debut, We Are The Pipettes from 2006 is the best. The best song was a non-album single called ‘Dirty Mind’, which probably says more about me. She also has a couple of solo albums.
The duo first met at a Pipettes show before their paths crossed again at a socially distanced between lockdowns gig that resulted in the pair combining their diverse tastes… they quote Van Der Graaf Generator, King Crimson, jazz, prog and Bowie. To quote them, the new music is “a shared love of English folk music, storytelling and the associated landscapes of this beleaguered island with a cinematic breadth whilst maintaining an honest intimacy. Guitars, saxophones and strings lifting the songs into other stratospheres”.
With Coxon on his favoured saxophone as well as lute and guitar, it promises much and delivers accordingly. Although conventional rock isn’t on the menu, the blend of styles, instrumentation and vocals is fascinating. Take opener ‘Can I Call You’, it has a folk-like intro then punk, Bowie and Crimson influences come together for a remarkable song. ‘Sleepwalking’ brings gentle jazz undertones to the pop-rock base. ‘Someone Up There’ is sort of glam rock meets Altered Images. ‘Undine’ is prog rock class with that sax at its most effective and some sensitive and quite lovely vocals from Rose, matched by Graham’s reflective voice. The innovative guitar on the closing track makes it even more worthwhile.
This is the kind of album that rock fans can wheel out to impress people who think rock is one-dimensional, in Coxon and Dougall’s hands it most certainly isn’t.
The album is out on February 3rd on Transgressive Records, and they are touring the UK in March 2023.