Rogue Jones - Dos Beb​é​s (Album Review)

Welsh musicians Bethan Mai and Ynyr Morgan Ifan, known as Rogue Jones, not only make music together but also make babies. While this may sound like an odd way to introduce a review, it's a unique aspect of the duo's lives that has influenced their latest album, Dos Bebés. Over five years in the making, the album showcases Rogue Jones' wild experimentation with pop formations and musical anomalies, resulting in an absorbing collection of songs that touch on many aspects of the human experience.

The majority of the tracks on Dos Bebés are sung (and spoken) in Welsh, adding localized charm to the group's planetary ambitions. There's a universal appeal to the bravely alternative indie pop, exemplified by the cool confidence of the opening track "Triongl Dyfed", which charges forward with intergalactic curiosity.

When the duo switch to English, as on the album highlight "Off By One", their songs are no more or less enjoyable for Anglophones. Instead, it's the soaring and memorable chorus that makes this track stand out. Similarly, the ebullient "Englynion Angylion" has all the magic of a Kate Bush track without any of the self-importance. Rogue Jones don't seem to be capable of pretense; their deep songs are played with proud innocence. This flippancy sometimes veers thr group towards the obtuse, as in the musical-theatre tinged "Babette", where vocals call and respond over cabaret piano before the music falls into chaos.

The group provide English translations for their songs, revealing a poetic talent to those not of Cymraeg tongue. For example, "Fflachlwch Bach" is a feel-good and radio-friendly slice of pop rock, but its thoughtfully dense lyrics belie the easy-going sound ("A daily ritual is to be sunk to the deep, depths of immortal love").

Elsewhere, the balladic "1, 2, 3" builds from gentle piano-led songwriting to epic sonic orchestration, while the galactic psychedelia of the unhinged "155 bpm" repeats vocal "booms" to imbue the track with a transferable sense of rhythm and movement. "Y Tad, Y Mab a’r Ysbryd Glân" explores why so many new fathers partake in Iron Man events, with Ynyr Morgan Ifan drawing the listener into a soothing campfire world of measured piano and bass lines while relaying a joke about the holy trinity walking into a bar. This sense of humor juxtaposes the heartfelt delivery, preventing the song from sounding self-righteous or lachrymose.

Filmmaker Eilir Pierce makes vocal contributions to "Lemonade", a somewhat bizarre song about sharing cake. At just over two minutes in length, "Gwaed" is the shortest track on the album, yet it's a comprehensive examination and touching proclamation of a parent's love and the sacrifices they make for their children. The closing track, "R. Williams Parry", an ode to mysticism, is a slow-burning track that allows the listener to emotionally unwind after an album chock-a-block with earnestness and fortitude.

Dos Bebés by Rogue Jones is an altogether convivial listen. While Bethan Mai's crystalline vocals are a high point, there are many other redeeming factors, including the sheer astronomical scope of these songs. Although the album may not be instantly accessible or easily digestible, there's a wealth of musical treasure to be found here, whether in the form of traditionally beautiful songwriting or more gaga forays into alternative pop. This is a substantial album from two artists in full control of their curious craft.