The Little Unsaid – Atomise

Album Review | Reveal Records | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 5/5

John Elliott, vocalist, songwriter and The Little Unsaid main man has a captivating voice. It’s not a showy diva instrument, but his crooning whisper is compelling, drawing you into the songs. “Human” has the stripped back, melancholic minimal feel of late period Japan, Talk Talk, or a less self consciously difficult Radiohead. A beautiful pop piano ballad crackles with digital flutters and romantic strings. “Screws” is intimate plucked guitar and electronics, building emotionally in intensity. The post John Martyn Tim Buckley strummed acoustic troubadour layered with textures niche is currently a popular one. Neil Halsted, Passenger and a myriad of others drink at that well, but few do it so well. “Story” blends woozy choir vocals, like the final track on Pink Floyd’s Obscured by Clouds, with some highly personal revelatory imagery to make a compelling whole. “Spiderman”, more contemplative Scottish recluse than lycra suited superhero, is another atmospheric piece of poetry, building in intensity. “Music” built round an earworm piano and bass loop is simply stunning. Music is the saviour, more important than stability, monetary measures of success. Like so many tracks in this excellent album the lyrics are full of emotional highly personal images that are charged with power. The title track is a delicate breathy anthem, building from ticking clock drum beat via a compelling vocal to washes of Paranoid Android choral bliss. “Ignited” is another album highlight, imagine The Bends era Radiohead covering Joni Mitchell’s Hejira. Its all chiming resonant acoustic guitar and dark atmosphere as John delivers another stunningly emotional vocal. “Particles” and “Chain” are more ambient, with strings and smouldering understated Guy Harvey like vocals where John repeats a line to build intensity. “Chain” has a thumping ear worm of a bassline as grimy and insistent as the bass woofer of a strip cruising car. “Moonrise” is beautifully layered, managing to sound delicate, gossamer thin and understated with great space at atmosphere. Fans on The Blue Nile, David Sylvian or late Japan will be reaching for the repeat on this track. “Willow” is beautiful urban folk, its percussive bass line is next doors stereo coming up the floor, the imagery is pastoral and ancient while the piano and Elliots beautiful vocal evokes new age folk Clannad or a soulful Enya. This track and this whole album is stunning and over too quickly. Nothing is overdone or overstated there is a kind of ambient intelligent pop template with all the songs coming in around the three or four minutes. Tracks like “Willow” could run on happily to twice that length, enveloping the listener in Ludovico Einaudi soundscapes.