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Beatrix Players - Magnified album review

Elegant British chamber pop expands on its influences.

Beatrix Players - Magnified album artwork

This all-female trio are invariably compared to Kate Bush and Tori Amos.

While this probably drives them nuts, it’s impossible to not discern strains of those two in the voices, melodies and tone. Where they do move away from that template – and to be clear, it’s a most palatable template – is in their arrangements. Mashing up folk, soft prog and classical-tinged chamber pop, with no guitars or drums, they evoke another time, another place. Amy Birks (vocals), Amanda Alvarez (cello) and Jess Kennedy (piano, vocals), with added violins and double bass, express influences from Bach and Beethoven to Michael Nyman and Mazzy Star, and the bucolic prettiness of Shelleyan Orphan is also revived. This would be academic were it not for the fact that their best songs, probing interesting themes, possess real, sharp presence and the ability to surge. Lady Of The Lake tilts and swells to a hypnotic climax; Rushlight taps into Tony Banks tropes in a faintly kindred way to iamthemorning. Ophelia avoids pre-Raphaelite clichés, managing Jane Siberry’s gift for theatricality which doesn’t gush, while Roses bunches melodrama and redolent poise. At its best, Magnified reboots the Brontes’ spirit for our brave new world.

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.