The first thing that might come as a surprise here is that Olive actually recorded a second album. True, they shed a member after the enormous success of Extra Virgin (1996), or specifically the mega-hit You’re Not Alone, which peaked at number 1 the following year. But in 2000, they did return, with the much more pop-sounding Trickle. It was never released in the UK, and it wasn’t exactly successful, but surprisingly it is actually rather good.
The first track is one of the more subdued, the sweet Love Affair. Full of enormous pads and what might in another world be slide guitars, it’s also punctuated by some very lively drumming, coming together as a great mix.
The title track Trickle follows. If you’d only ever dipped into Olive, you might be forgiven for not having realised what an exceptionally good singer Ruth-Ann Boyle actually is. It’s songs like this one – which might have given another vocalist an excuse for a fairly mundane recording – on which she really comes to the fore.
Then comes the one and only single, which is something of a sad fact, although it was pumped full of largely dull remixes. The cover of I’m Not in Love is great though – Boyle’s vocal gives it a haunting quality which wasn’t entirely there in the original, while the slightly trippy pop backing endows it with energy too.
Songs like Smile might on any other album be rather dull, but on this one, it comes together beautifully, again allowing Boyle’s vocals to bring it to life explosively. All You Ever Needed, which follows, has less charm, but still has plenty to enjoy. Ultimately, it’s the slower pieces that grab you the most, as the lovely Indulge Me demonstrates, with its wavering Hammond organ and gentle beats, but ultimately songs like this were never going to be enormous hits.
This is perhaps where Trickle comes unstuck – it’s beautiful, and it is commercial, but it doesn’t quite fit with what the music industry wants us to be listening to – it’s that odd niche genre of relaxed pop music which radio DJs all insist is boring.
But it really isn’t boring, as the wonderful Speak to Me reminds you, and Liberty must be one of the best songs on here, despite the fact that practically nobody has ever heard it. It’s enough to make you very cross indeed.
The faux-orchestral introduction to Push is one of the odder moments now, fifteen years after this album originally saw the light of the day. If you picked up on the lack of Tim Kellett‘s legs on the front cover, you might be reading yourself for something more disturbing, but this is really as close as it comes, and only then because the synth string sounds have suffered the ravages of time somewhat. It’s still a great song.
No such fears for Thank You, with its enormous bass part, or the lovely Creature of Comfort, and then we’re nearly at the end already. The closing track Beyond the Fray, the closest to actual drum and bass that this album really gets, is brilliant, a perfect way to end an hour of music. If you don’t count the quieter and less exciting hidden track Take My Hand, that is.
So Trickle turns out to be a great second album, and a sadly overlooked gem. And sadder still, it would be the last we would see of Olive, save for a few side projects from each of the members. That’s definitely our loss.
Import and download copies of Trickle are still widely available and well worth owning.