> Guests 'I wish I was special' (Album Review) - SNACK: Music, film, arts and culture magazine for Scotland

Guests ‘I wish I was special’ (Album Review)

There’s an intimacy to this debut album from Jessica Higgins and Matthew Walkerdine; the creation of an atmosphere that feels like a little peek into their world, their bubble. That’s in no small part due to Higgins’ vocal delivery, which seems very natural, in places almost as if she’s singing to herself – little snatches of conversation and context-free snippets of observation, taking a bit of inspiration from twee underground, from spoken word and the stream of consciousness of dance music MCs like Karl Hyde.

This kind of pick-and-mix approach runs through the whole album. There are field recordings and long droney loops, simple – almost childlike – percussion and sparse, spooky theremin. But there are pop hooks, and folky accordion and bassy dub thrash, and movie clips and something that might have come from a motivational speaker.

Collage, I guess, is the appropriate term here, but what it really feels like is the building of a unique space that we’re given a little insight into without ever truly understanding.



Not that it’s always cosy. They never quite hold on to anything long enough to settle: little ideas creep in and out of the background and we never know where they’re going next. Combined with the drones and the stretched, warped noises building up and washing over us, the naive percussion can take on the menace of a nursery rhyme in a horror movie. It doesn’t feel right, exactly, but you can’t put your finger on why.


Guests – ‘A Veneer, A Promise, Whatever’ (Official Video)

‘Arrangements, As In Making Them’ – the six- minute track that’s probably the closest thing the album has to a pop song – is a microcosm of all that, essentially a simple and catchy tune with Higgins exploring insecurity and missed chances, bookended by ominous, slippy squeals. There’s a real freshness here – nothing else sounds like this – and a disregard for convention that makes Guests a very exciting proposition, continuing in the vein of the art punks of the early eighties and making something that feels like a genuine, honest expression of life.


I wish I was special is out now. Buy it here.

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