Marcella and the Forget Me Nots – Born Beautiful
Album released 16th September 2011 on Really Good Records
“…a stomping, powerful pop statement” – Rough Trade(Jan 31 2012)
“Unstoppable” Vogue Italia (July 2011)
"Epic art-indie-Weimar, part Kate Bush, part PJ Harvey, with Roxy Music's dress sense"
It's like this. Marcella Puppini could be basking in the glow of retro glamour and silver-screen loveliness. She could be fluttering around the globe with the Puppini Sisters, charming audiences with songs from their new album, Hollywood. Her life could be so serene. But would she be happy?
Hell, no. The Puppini Sisters are Marcella's bit of fun. Now meet her real band, the indie-art-punk-Weimar group of misfits and drama queens with whom Marcella can tear open her soul. Marcella and the Forget Me Nots may be glamorous, but they're not lovely or charming. They are a scream in the dark, a pulse of desire, the glint of a knife. And they are Marcella's pride and joy.
So much so that Marcella refused to sign with a label for the band's debut album, Born Beautiful: instead she is releasing it independently – with the help of fans who donated funds via PledgeMusic. She knows from her experience with the Puppini Sisters how easy it is to be trapped into one sound, one style. With the Forget Me Nots, Marcella has the freedom to explore the full range of her musical loves, from opera to big bands, Klaus Nomi to PJ Harvey, Nick Cave to the Dresden Dolls, fusing these disparate influences with her own unique style to create something boldly individual and new.
Born Beautiful is her statement of eclectic intent. The title track is a cry from the heart: a plangent piano ballad that explores, with unflinching honesty, what it feels like to be “a prisoner of my insecurities”. Marcella's arrangement is exquisite: restrained yet fierce, gently propelled by Amy Kelly's militaristic drums and illuminated by Kati May’s golden clarinet solo. Opening song She Hero (key lyric: “She has the strength of a warrior, she shows the way to be free”) could hardly be more different: it's raw and sassy, Marcella a sultry banshee over Pato Vidal's strutting bass. And closing song Run While You Can is different again: while Marcella sings – true story, this – of her siblings seeing the devil in the Italian countryside, Ping Lee evokes those dark, open spaces with guitar-playing worthy of Ry Cooder.
With every arrangement, Marcella conjures up a new mood. Lullaby is as soft as its name, a swirling dance of clarinet and strings, so romantic you could almost miss the violence at its heart: “As you sleep your blood will dry,” Marcella croons to the philandering lover she has just murdered, “until it runs no more.” To The Water pulses with drama, Marcella's voice aching over a chilling backing chant of “Dies Irae” and Geri McEwan's stabbing violin. Dirty Old Men, meanwhile, is just plain twisted, a playful, sumptuously orchestrated serenade to all the sleazy geriatrics Marcella encountered in her youth, jacking off in the ladies' toilets or pressing up against her on the bus.
This, then, is the real Marcella: fiery, decadent and wild. And the Forget Me Nots are her match in passion, dazzling musicianship and forceful personality. There's nothing serene about Born Beautiful: it challenges everything you think you know about Marcella Puppini. But if you'd prefer to stick to “easy listening” – well, there's always the Puppini Sisters.
released September 16, 2011
All songs written by Marcella Puppini
String arrangements by Marcella Puppini
Album produced by Fred De Faye
Recorded at The Premises Studios, London, by Fred De Faye
Mixed and Mastered by Fred De Faye
Artwork by Alex De Campi
Photography by Tom Medwell
Hair by Nicholas Alexander Willis
Make up by Kinga Markovic Mua
Styling by Jason Halsey