The last time I saw Gwenno play was when she was in her previous band The Pipettes, and they were the support for a drunk and chaotic Libertines at the Camden Barfly. This was quite a while a go, and it’s fair to say that Gwenno’s musical style has changed a bit since her indie-pop days – her sound is now more akin to 70s tinged synth/electro pop. She’s also gone back to performing in her mother-tongue of Welsh, leading to new album Y Dydd Olaf taking on a very special sound.
We’re led into the record with Chwyldro, featuring drifty tones that gradually give way to a controlling bass line guiding the listener through this mystical wonderland. Gwenno’s pretty and adolescent vocals take on an enchanting feel when sung in Welsh (which all but a handful of us will understand), and really make you listen to the music, and also the dexterity in the singer’s voice.
Patriarchaeth is like nothing you’ve heard before; 80s computer game sounds, casio keyboard and floaty vocals all mix together against a strong beat and addictive melody to create something innocent, but intriguing at the same time. Add on top of this the gentle lullaby of Sisial Y Mor, and Golau Arall’s seduction, and you already have the basis for a good record. In fact the latter stands out as an album highlight with its impressive structure, keeping you guessing where the track is going to, before hitting you with a seductive and intriguing chorus.
Album-titled track Y Dydd Olaf is the icing on the cake to this record, and is worthy of a mention. A steady beat keeps the 60s bass sound rolling along, and the echo-laden vocals give the trippy track a layered sound that works well against the simple melody.
Gwenno has really hit on something here, and she’s been brave enough to attempt a sound completely different to what she previously raised to fame for. It shows the singer isn’t all about making money and selling out, but in it for the joy of music and the excitement of creating something that she actually loves. Even if you can’t understand the lyrics, you can tell that Gwenno bears her soul through the music, and leaves the listener wanting more of what she has to offer.