Hailing from Halifax, The Orielles are sisters Sidonie B and Esmé Dee Hand Halford and their best friend Henry Carlyle Wade whom they met at a house party just a few years ago. The then teenagers bonded over their shared love of alternative US bands from the 90s such as Sonic Youth & Pixies as well as pioneering filmmakers including Quentin Tarantino (The Orielles have cited his work in their songs and consider his work a major lyrical and aesthetical influence). Keen proponents of the DIY aesthetic, they learned their instruments on the road through gigging and the band have spent the past few years polishing their sound, with a steady string of singles previously released.
Sidonie Hand Halford is a Christmas temp at the Post Office in Liverpool, her younger sister Esme is studying English literature at Manchester, and their friend Henry Wade is preparing to sit his A-levels in Halifax next summer. They’re also about to release their first album, and it’s a beauty.
From the first jangling sunshine chords on opening track ‘Mango’, Silver Dollar Moments announces itself as a proper piece of indie pop goodness. Then, across 45 minutes, it takes all kinds of turns, into ESG-ish yips and funk, dreamy-arch harmonies, disco synth-pows and stoner bongos, unsettling submerged voices – with all that and more it still flows like a fountain of indie pop, fresh and catchy and altogether.
Maybe one reason it all coheres so beautifully is that The Orielles are a close-knit unit: two sisters and their best mate. “We met Henry at a house party a few years ago,” says Sid. “I mean, it’s a bit lamer than that sounds. It was a friend of our parents, she was having a 40th birthday party, and we went along, and Henry was there too, with his parents.” They’ve been writing songs together ever since, Esme singing and on bass, Sidonie on drums, Henry on guitar. They’ve played live all over the UK as well as Europe and North America, and this year they signed to Heavenly Recordings and headed into Eve Studios in Stockport.
In the studio right alongside them was Marta Salogni, possibly the most beloved producer in the western world at the moment, who’s also worked recently with Liars, Kelela, Björk and The Moonlandingz. “Marta is mint,” say the band. “She’s fucking sick.”
On the album, they expanded their skillsets: “There’s loads of percussion – bongos, cowbell, allsorts,” says Sidonie. “Henry plays the Hammond organ, and a Fender Rhodes, a Minimoog, a normal piano, and a glockenspiel.” Some of this was prompted by Salogni: “We got stoned and she played a 20-minute synth set and we just sat there watching it, like, whoah,” says Henry. “It was literally one of the best pieces of music I’ve ever witnessed live,” says Esme. There’s flute on the album, too, from Lucy Power, who came in last minute and improvised on ‘Henry’s Pocket’. “We got to make music on all these beautiful instruments that they’ve collected over the years at Eve,” says Henry. “It was inspiring, really. We were sad to leave.”
The songs are also inspired by cinema, literature and physiological details of domestic animals. “So many pop songs are about relationships or growing up or whatever,” they say. “We wanted to write a few songs that make people think, What the hell is that about?”
And what the hell are they about? There are some good stories on this album: ‘Let Your Dog Tooth Grow’ is inspired by Dogtooth, a surreal and extremely dark film by Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos about two teenage sisters whose parents never let them leave the house. ‘Henry’s Pocket’ is named for Henry’s habit when drunk of carefully emptying his pockets before he goes to sleep and arranging the contents neatly on his bedside table. “It’s insane the stuff he has in there, it’s like Mary Poppins’ bag,” says Sid. “Then we did some research,” adds Henry. “And it turns out there’s a little fold in a cat’s ear called a Henry’s pocket.”
‘Liminal Spaces’ and ‘The Sound Of Liminal Spaces’ come halfway through the record because “the act of flipping from the A side to the B side is the listener’s liminal space”, says Sid. “All the lyrical themes on the A side are to do with us and our own experiences, while the B side has songs with more surreal themes. So the liminal space is also flipping from our experiences to supernatural experiences.”
The songs span a chunk of time, from tracks they’ve been playing for a while, like opener ‘Mango’, to closing belter ‘Blue Suitcase (Disco Wrist)’, which was written in the studio as they made the album. (Disco wrist, by the way, is “something we think Nile Rodgers has, from playing his disco riffs on the guitar.”)
Young upstarts with a thirst for adventure, a love for the party and great sprawling taste in music: they’re clearly another perfect Heavenly band. “We did always looked to Heavenly because they were bringing out consistently good UK music,” says Henry. “We’re fans of so many of their bands – The Parrots, King Gizzard, Hooton Tennis Club, Toy, Temples, H Hawkline – that’s how we knew it’d be a nice label to be on.”
“And they’re a really tight community,” says Sid. “They put on festival lineups with a lot of their bands so there’s always opportunity to meet other Heavenly musicians. We’ve spoken to other bands on other labels who rarely see their label manager and never get to know any of the other bands on their label. It’s really good that we do.”
One last thing: what’s a Silver Dollar Moment? “It’s anything that’s unexpectedly brilliant,” says Henry. “We played in Toronto, at this bar called the Silver Dollar Room. We’d been in Canada for 36 hours, no sleep, we’d already played at 10, then we played a show at the Silver Dollar at 2am and it was one of the best shows we’ve played. So a silver dollar moment became anything that’s good, but unexpectedly.” He pauses, then grins: “Although we knew the album would be good, obviously.”