In the past few years, only a few bands have grabbed the musical jaws of life and pried a genuinely delighted response from me. ROOT! (now the DC3), Skye Harbour (now defunct, nyaw), Aluka, Clairy Browne and the Bangin’ Rackettes are a few of a few that have wowed me with their business. And now I can happily add Melbourne a capella four-piece The Nymphs to the beatified pile.
Their debut self-titled EP opens with "After Eight", in which one is introduced to four damn fine voices, each intrinsic and unique. The only musical accompaniment is a softly tinkling ragtime piano, like a silent movie.
"Song for Two" romantically gets back to the stripped-back nature of the group, with only vocals to steer the track. Though the a capella deal serves them well, this track in particular would go gangbusters with a massive horn section and swing drums. The girls’ voices meld gorgeously; though it is a capella, the songs are so full and bursting with charm and charisma that you don’t notice there’s no music.
"The Deadly Rabbits" exhibits yet more of the aforementioned charm, adorably delivered here in lyrics, both quaint (“Yellow was the best colour for the wall/ But the cracks that run from side to side suggest that it would fall…”) and quirky (“Plutonium mouse and his little lead house”); the cute piano backing adds a jaunty, zig-zaggedness to the number that is sorely missing from many vocal groups.
In "Don’t Ask Me How" we hear guest Ade Vincent of The Tiger and Me (a Melbourne band which also features The Nymphs’ Jane Hendry) on sopranino recorder. Amongst jazzy-pop piano and lyrical liltings of “frilly knickers”, the girls sing happily and divinely.
"Paper Doll" is the only cover upon the record; this smoother, slower track is a redoing of a Mills Brothers track (though much covered and originally written by JS Black); I once heard the band jazz this one up (no pun intended… was there one?), making it quicker, scattier, more swinging; I think I prefer it that way, though the EP version is still delightfully creamy all over. Om nom nom.
The EP ends with "Mr Slink" and some vocally dexterous doo-wop scatting; the Nymphs sound like a piano-led, female Cherry Poppin’ Daddies here which, since I freakin’ love the Daddies, is damn fine by me.
Anyone keen on dynamite vocal talent best get into these lasses before they’re super famous and you can’t get a ticket to their shows. It’ll happen soon, and you’ll be all, “Damn”.
Review Score: 9/10