archive review originally posted on the losing today site c. 2001/2
Be prepared to be chilled, romanced and taken to a world previously the fairytale playground of childlike innocence, transported to the gentle backwaters where imaginations run with wild abandon. ‘Running Girl’ is underplayed as a mini album that within besets a masterpiece feat of gloriously wonderment filled symphonies and imagery.
Acting as a taster for a full length project promised for next year under the working title ‘Hey Petrunko’, Ooberman’s ‘Running Girl’ is a craftily worked spellbinding assault that has taken two years to come to fruition. Popplewell and Co have managed to create a photographic album of memories that in the meagre 27 minutes seem to tangle and tease with the emotions, providing a serious resting of the gauntlet for others to attempt to take on.
‘Running Girl’ is touched throughout with a statuesque beauty that defies description, of the nine tracks on offer it’s really difficult to find an Achilles heel such is the combined wintery flow they provide. Simply charmed with a sense of being out of fashion and out of time, ‘Running Girl’ offers the chance to step through the magical gateways in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe to another world where goblins and ice queens lurk in the shadows. Immediately accessible, it clips between sublime folk extremes, the heart tugging string arrangements give it a mystical and mythical air, often haunting and forever timeless.
Opening with the title track, ‘Running Girl’ is in part uncharacteristic of the albums overall feel, vibrantly upbeat, a fractured mix of old English psychedelic folk with a glitzy parcel wrapping of a Tommy like rock opera. The ‘rock opera’ feel doesn’t diminish, a feint Dickensian mood descends across the symphonies like crisply fallen snow. ‘We’ll know when we get there’ hits breathlessly heavenly peaks and courageous lows, while ‘Here comes the ice wolves’ basks in a magnificent swirl of eerie strings and ‘sugar plum fairy’ like tip toeing, awash with all manner of lullaby like melodies.
Perhaps if reference points were to be offered you’d be wise to check Prefab Sprouts ‘Andromeda Heights’ as a starting point. Both seem to have a common denominator in that they both seek to take pop music out of its more associated confines and move the goalposts to more sophisticated and acknowledged territories.
Tracks like ‘Ghosts’ have more than a chilling familiarity that would suggest some kind of link from pop to the kind of spooky soundtrack of ‘The Nightmare before Christmas’, one thing is certain, ‘Running Girl’ possesses a myriad of feelings innate within us all.
Ooberman have created within ‘Running Girl’ a positively polished and professional mini masterpiece which will make you swoon, cry, laugh and be amazed, above all the emotions it taps will live with you forever. A classic.