Fragments is a fitting title for this debut EP from Manchester-based Glass Ankle. A mixed and contemplative bag, it doesn’t always hit the mark, but it’s definitely got an assortment of shiny treats to entice you. A blending of some good ol’ guitar and keys with the more esoteric interweaving of woodwind and uke, this synthy folk pop has been receiving good air time on BBC Manchester and is clearly cutting a swathe for itself across the Northern indie scene.
Unfortunately I can’t stand the sound of the ukelele, after living with an over-zealous disciple of the instrument some years back. Doubly unfortunate, I hate the saxophone as well (though this has no traumatic grounding in my past and is just evidence of my fascist aural tendencies). So Glass Ankle are an odd one for me: half the tracks set my teeth on edge, half held me enthralled. Their sound is not yet coherent and their style still very much in the experimental stage: are they light-hearted breezy or a psychedelic mind bend?
The weakness of the EP is that it feels more like a scrapbook than a finished product – however the beauty of any EP is of course precisely that: it can act as a sampler. In my opinion (and it is only an opinion, and only one), they choose the weakest tracks to start and end on. Poor Boy opens with an enticing ethereal swell, but is soon broken apart by tinny strums and the lyrics don’t quite hold it together. ‘One of Them’ sends us off on a note that sounds oddly like a spacey Oasis on helium.
The central tracks are the strongest. ‘Secondary Now’ offers more imaginative hope; and the eponymous ‘Fragment’ is both tantalisingly short and brilliant because of it – similarly, the sonic musing of ‘Fleeting’ makes for a beautiful and beguiling interlude – as if you have opened a door into a room where you are not supposed to be, lingered a second, and then quietly, reluctantly, receded.
There is an interrupted quality to the end of all their tracks, which emphasises the diffracted feel. These indeed are fragmentary offerings – a mosaic smattering which, in its present form, does not proffer a full picture; but presumably, in time, with the next EP, or a full-scale album, one will appear. It’s certainly a start – and it will be interesting to see where they go – but I’m looking forward to the next EP to form a better sense of who exactly Glass Ankle are.