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Rollerball | Real Hair (Silber)
After eight albums of jazz-infused post-folk droning, 'Real Hair' sees Rollerball moving towards more conventionally structured songwriting. It's a bold move, and it proves to be a wildly successful one, showing a band finally becoming interested in communicating their ideas to an audience. Rollerball's earlier studio albums have teetered on the brink of self-conscious pomposity, sorely lacking the humour and directness of their live shows. It's good to see them loosen up in the studio as well, braving the conventions of space-y art-folk. There are enough traces of their former albums on here, but the true gems are the discomforting doo-wop neo-folk of songs like Girls Hugging Trees and Startling, wonderful tracks showing both the constant evolution and the disconcerting stability of a band always searching out new directions. The male/female vocal interchanges, the tumbling percussion, the saxophones and clarinets pushed to the front all go together to create some of Rollerball's most focused, controlled work to date, without losing any of the band's inherent playfulness and open-endedness. Rollerball has, perhaps paradoxically, expanded their scope by focusing on more conventional songwriting, proving able to retain their playfulness at the same time as they're approaching the parameters of established folk-rock structures.

Stein Haukland
CWAS #13 - Autumn 2003