Smoke Fairies and Isobel Campbell launched their careers in the era of twee, bubbly pop exemplified by Scotland’s Belle & Sebastian. Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies of Smoke Fairies toured the U.S. with Laura Marling a decade ago, with a sound grittier than most British twee acts.
Their new, fifth studio album, Darkness Brings the Wonders Home (Year Seven Records) was recorded in Seattle as a full dive into hard-rocking edgy blues. Tracks like “Chew Your Bones” are tense and exciting, with little of the duo’s soft side remaining.
Campbell, formerly the second vocalist in Belle & Sebastian, released a folky solo album several years ago, but since moving to Los Angeles, she’s expanded into funk and Latin rhythms. Her new album, There Is No Other (Cooking Vinyl) displays plenty of diversity, though her high breathy voice sometimes feels like L.A.’s new sensation Claude Fontaine, by delivering reggae and dance rhythms in a near-whisper.