Chicago duo craft unearthly, not quite folk debut, with added harp

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The Children’s Hour – SOS JFK

Yet another in the unfairly long list of extraordinary records released by Rough Trade recently (Hidden Cameras, Adam Green, Belle And Sebastian, The Fiery Furnaces). SOS JFK is one of those records that’s naggingly reminiscent of other things, but also feels if it sprang fully formed from some other place where the air is purer, utterly devoid of influence. Andy Bar’s rattling strum is like a sparser, more raw version of Mazzy Star guitarist David Roback’s but Josephine Foster’s voice has a glassy, alien quality that recalls Hugo Largos Mimi Goese or Shirley Collins, and there are moments of airy, unhinged beauty worthy of Mary Margaret O’Hara. The point in “Mary” when Foster’s harp comes in is heart-stopping. Her words are bewitching, too, mixing religious imagery and child-like simplicity like the poet Stevie Smith.