Musically, you won’t find anything on Montreal singer/songwriter Little Scream’s debut album that you wouldn’t find on the work of other quiet acoustic folk artists that are quickly becoming a ‘10’s cliché. Instrumentally, The Golden Record falls somewhere below the lush darkness of Laura Marling and above the barely-there unobtrusiveness of Lia Ices. I would probably equate the arrangements of The Golden Record to something like The Mynabirds, the Oklahoma group that’s modest debut last year made hardly an indent on the indie folk scene, let alone the musical landscape as a whole. A cursory listen to The Golden Record’s acoustic guitars and frail voices may warrant an immediate dismissal to an uncaring musical purgatory.
While this is true throughout most of The Golden Record, the album has several redeemable moments that contradict the timidity of the arrangements. “The Heron and Fox”, musically, would not turn many heads, but, lyrically, Little Scream exhibits a knack for making unconventional subjects profound with clever wordplay. “I told the stripper at the bar that the shots we got were magic / Make a wish and it’ll come true / As she smiled her golden tooth / Glinted in the light / I wonder what she wished for / I just wished for you.” It ‘s a very roundabout way of making a point, but all that poetic talk of strippers and gold only increases the momentum as Little Scream gets to the punchline. Elsewhere, she exerts lyrical dominance over the titular character in “Guyegaros”, telling him to “put down your guitar and meet me in the choir” in the choruses. These moments hint at the strong character Little Scream can be, and, when she assumes that central roll, she sets herself apart from her peers.
This is why “Red Hunting Jacket” comes at such a surprise so late in The Golden Record and also why it’s the album’s most rewarding track. With joyous handclaps and distorted guitar, the track is active but also has a better pop sense than all the other tracks on The Golden Record. Little Scream’s breathy voice doesn’t completely fit the track’s changed mood, but it’s still a highlight because not only does it make Little Scream a prominent figure as opposed to the rest of The Golden Record, but it also shows that she sounds excellent when she is.