Heloise and the Savoir Faire | Trash, Rats & Microphones
When Heloise (pronounced “Eloise”) Williams began fronting Heloise and the Savoir Faire she belted out her hyperbolic dance tunes over a laptop-generated backing track, flanked only by two dancers — Joe Shepard and Sara Sweet Rabidoux. Williams soon fleshed out the line-up with a full band. Guitarist James Bellizia along with drummer Luke Hughett and bassist Jason Diamond lock the carefree spirit of the Savoir Faire into a tight, relentless groove. While Shepard and Rabidoux perform with Williams in live settings, on Trash, Rats & Microphones the audience must be content to imagine their presence.
Debuting on Simian Records (the love child of Elijah Wood and Yep Roc), Trash, Rats & Microphones keeps it purposefully light. Most tracks are entertaining, mindless, and fun, as when Williams name checks dated fashion labels on “Members Only” or pens an ode to the “Datsun 280z.” At times, the lyrics can become distracting and annoying (“On Fuego,” “Memorial Day”). Williams’ range is ridiculously broad moving from feminine, Alison Goldfrapp-like glam (“Odyle”) to near soul (“Givin’ U the Bizness”) with ease. Unfortunately, Debbie Harry’s guest vocals on “Downtown” and “Canadian Chang” are all but buried in the busy mix.
The high energy of “Illusions,” which kicks off the album with dueling keyboards and echoey toms, sets the tone for the rest of the record. You can almost sing along to the bass line on “Downtown.” “Canadian Changs” offers a liberal dose of cowbell to balance the horns and the unrelenting rhythm section.
When Williams sings on “Illusions,” “It’s all smoke and mirrors in a house made out of cards” she sums up her band’s debut: entertaining artifice that you can dance to. But can the unstoppable live show, complete with costume changes, and song-specific pantomime, translate to an audio-only format? There’s no way Trash can match the full-blown spectacle that is Heloise and the Savoir Faire in concert, so it’s probably best to judge it on its own merits, and then catch the band the next time they’re in town.
Check out video of Heloise and the Savoir Faire performing at Bust Magazine’s 2008 SXSW party: