Multidisciplinary artist Watch Paint Dry brings modest ambition to DIY production on ‘rose owner’.

The new single is a joy, inspiring in its idiosyncrasy and impressive in scale.

Photo: Jesse Nicholls | Words: Lloyd Bolton

‘Rose owner’ is a joyous new pair of songs from bedroom ambient punk gem Watch Paint Dry (Elsie Plimmer). The latest of a recent flurry of releases on their newly founded CLODHOP label (formed with Jesse Nicholls and Sid Plimmer), it follows the outstanding ‘ready when’ EP that came out over Christmas. Speaking of Plimmer’s musical and visual styles, the single builds a manic magical pastoral scene across two assertively unconventional tracks.

Twinkling along to its own wonky melodic pulse, ‘homeowner’ is modestly ambitious, impressively holding your attention as it evolves glacially over seven minutes. Speak-singing from the London-based/Somerset-raised artist leads us through subtle shifts in subject matter. We go from identifying with “Elvis Presley in his prime” to feeling more like a sub-par marching band that is nonetheless “the life and soul of the village fete”. This stream of strange images passes like flashes of a strange dream during an afternoon nap.

After its patient build-up and scattering of imagery, the ‘marching band’ line puts the whole piece into context. The plink plonk pulse takes on a pastoral quality, while also suggesting smallness in its manic repetition. It feels as though we are listening to a crudely animated marching band from a model village, whose fanfare has been happily mutilated by low batteries. This wind-up toy sound, coupled with the folds of suspended keyboard, recalls the charm of early Belle and Sebastian.

‘A rose’ is more familiar Watch Paint Dry form. Again, gently sung words guide through a domestic setting of crossword puzzle books and paper plates. Here, however, there is a more insistent order imposed by a clanking drum machine pattern. It sums up Plimmer’s ability to bring delightfully simple elements together to create something wonderful and idiosyncratically complex.

Watch Paint Dry is world building. Plimmer’s work satisfyingly manages to echo their visual art output in an oblique manner, carrying on its pop humour and fascination with the British unconscious. Inspiringly, the recordings seem to be covered in their own fingerprints, playing out a triumph over the practical limitations of home recording. Everything sounds wonky yet shiny, like a poorly assembled disco ball. Across these two tunes, Plimmer expresses the joy of creating, leaning into its essential freedom. Though the words lock into tight meter, they drift between subjects with surreal abandon, while instruments juxtapose order and improvisation. The more striking of the two tracks here is ‘homeowner’, for its grand scale and ability to get under your skin despite the strangeness of its shoestring hook. Yet neither tune sounds like anything else, owning crudity and the uniqueness it can produce. In its unaffected genius, the single is inspirational, persistently true to the DIY ethos of working entirely on one’s own terms.