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Summer Special

Updated: Jul 28, 2023


ARXX, Autoleisureland, Bonny Doon, En Attendant Ana, Harmonious Thelonius, Holly Henderson, Kendrick Scott, Nabihah Iqbal, Panda Bear and Sonic Boom, The Royston Club, The Selecter, Steve Querault and Michael Smith, Suki Sou, Those Pretty Wrongs, Tim Heidecker, Twain

The Front Runners

Infiniti Drive : Autoleisureland.

This album is a masterclass of smooth and comforting 80’s dance soul pop. This album overflows with their love for music. This album is simply perfect.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. Autoleisureland are, effectively, the reincarnation of the Kane Gang. That’s a gift of a backstory that allows me to say that in this guise they are the closest thing to Heaven that you’ll hear this year.

Autoleisureland are a Kane Gang upgrade. They have more polish than the Kane Gang, and more heady pop purity than anything else I’ve heard for a long, long time.

In ‘Fade Out’ they sing about not finding the hook or the groove. They will find it in their own songs. It’s an addictive reminder of why 80s pop is regarded as a golden age. Throw in some beautifully calibrated, choppy disco guitar, ageless vocals and the sweetest melodies and you have something sublime.

But it’s also more than a pristine reproduction of classic time. This is an album that is constantly looking back. This is pop about pop and our memories of pop. There’s a song called ‘KC and the Sunshine Band’ that harks back to their earliest days of loving music. ‘What Might Have Been’ is about wistful second chances. ‘Another Star Is Falling’ is a song that any of the softer 80s acts would have killed for.

This is an album that allows you to lose yourself in happy memories, like a dream from which you don’t want to awake. It’s not an album in a rush. It’s like avoiding the motorway to enjoy a meandering coast road. You don’t want to hurry when the songs are this good. You want to savour them slowly and in full.

Most importantly, this is an album that validates 80s music. It’s ok to feel good about the sounds of ABC, Living In A Box and, yes, the Kane Gang.

I loved this album. I hope you do too.

Taster Track : KC and the Sunshine Band

Principia : En Attendant Ana

A breath of fresh, youthful air, this set of melodic indie post punk is pretty damn good.

En Attendant Ana describe themselves as the mid point between garage punk and sophisticated pop. That’s a pretty good description. They keep it lo-fi, but it’s a refreshing blast from the past, and as authentic a reminder of those times as you could hope for. Think of them as sharing space with The Cure’s ‘Three Imaginary Boys’.

It’s not the brooding sounds of Joy Division. Neither is it the Gothic squall of Siouxsie and the Banshees. It’s a stepping stone from punk to the C86 indie generation. It brings joy in its steps but in the neutral, restrained tones of post punk.

Camille Frechou’s saxophone is key to this. It softens the tone while fleshing it out. It adds the seasoning that makes for a gourmet meal. In your mind’s eye you can watch John Peel swoon as it makes its appearance on ‘Ada, Mary, Diane’ and elsewhere.

Margaux Bouchaudon’s vocals are an appealing mix of Kirsty MacColl and Nina Persson from The Cardigans. They make an immediate impact, hooking you in with their sweetness.

The sparse and hooky guitar lines of ‘To The Crush’ are typical. On ‘Anita’ they are particularly good at burrowing into your heart and mind. ‘Wonder’ is the centrepiece, a buzzing slice of pop wonder indeed. It flies by like a dragonfly over water, bringing colour to a simple scene and song.

Their final track is ‘The Fears, The Urge’. Take it as read - any fears that this will sound dated and fall flat are unfounded. The urge to tell everyone about this is strong.

Taster Track : Wonder

Cheapo Sounds : Harmonious Thelonius

Old school electronica that’s a little quirky, a touch strange but immensely enjoyable.

Harmonious Thelonius - real name Stefan Schwander - says that this album is an attempt to match African rhythms with European sequencing. That’s as dry and serious as it gets, because from the first notes this is a bucketful of fun.

He looks a little like the Wizard of Oz. That’s appropriate, because this is the kind of music that might accompany a magician or illusionist’s performance. Something like ‘Limitations’ is a little mysterious, conjuring up a touch of Eastern promise.

It’s also the kind of music students would claim as their own, stumbling over something that wasn’t heard in the mainstream and adopting it as a code for good musical taste. (The equivalent in my student days was Pigbag’s ‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag’ It bombed chart wise on its first release but then its magic dimmed when its re-release a year later crashed into the top 10. Sadly, that’s unlikely to happen for Harmonious!)

This is insistent and infectious music. It’s impossible to stop your toes from tapping to it. ‘Soft Opening Machine’ and ‘Gummi Twist and Crawl (Die Koffer Sind Leer)’ are happy tunes. Don’t worry what they mean or why the koffer (suitcases) are leer (empty) just go with the flow.

‘Liquid Sound’ builds to a point where you believe it could roll on with perpetual momentum forever. ‘Afterhour’ has the unexpected warmth and melody of a hidden mid career OMD track. The five note motif in ‘Orion Stars’ fades in gradually to dominate the track before passing the baton to the next phase. This is old school electronica at its best.

Harmonious makes memorable music of the best kind, the kind that’s impossible to shake out of your head!

Taster track : Afterhour

Human Algebra : The Selecter

The Selecter have returned with one of the best albums of 2023. They may sound gentler now, but under soft coatings they pack a punch.

Back in 1979, when The Selecter were jostling for position on Two Tone records behind the Specials, The Beat, Madness and even Dexys Midnight Runners, you wouldn’t have put big money on them being the band that’s still carrying the flame. It felt as if they were being squeezed onto ‘B’ sides, surprisingly quiet behind the bustle of their label mates.

Fast forward nearly 45 years, and it’s surprising to see that they have released new material every two or three years. The frenetic ska influences of ‘Three Minute Hero’, ‘Too Much Pressure’ and ‘’On My Radio’ have softened to something smoother but don’t let that fool you into thinking that there’s not anger, outrage and firm convictions at the core of these songs. ‘Human Algebra’ - the album and the song - is full of compassion . ‘Depends’ matches it with tenderness.

This is reggae that works its messages through the warmth of the music, the calypso melodies of ‘Stop Them’ being one example. They achieve their objectives through the persuasion of the sun, not the might of the wind. It means that when you realise that the names recited at the end of ‘Stay Rebel’ are the names of some of those who have died in police custody, they are more shocking and moving.

Pauline Black and Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson still front the band and provide the enduring power of the songs. Vocally they are a stunning double act. Let’s recognise, though, that this is first and foremost a very good classic reggae album. That’s something that every band member contributes to.

This is an album of mature songs that are experienced in the ways of the world. In its soft and sweet reggae music it contains kernels of emotional truth that are universal and should be widely spread.

Taster Track : Human Algebra

Sun Moon Town EP : Steve Querault and Michael Smith

Steve Querault is the bass guitarist for Ride. Michael Smith is a filmmaker turned poet. Together they’ve made an album that covers heartfelt reflections in approachable music.

They’ve called it an EP, and it has only four tracks, but at nearly 35 minutes it’s as long as many albums and maintains the quality across its full length. This is an album where its intensity never bogs down the music. It's sobering but not depressing.

At its heart it’s a battle between youthful hopes and grown up reality. It’s disillusioned and desperate, unsettling but moving. You will feel adrenaline rising like the build up to a decisive intervention.

These four tracks are prose poems set to music. Each one is a successful exercise in mood and atmosphere. It’s an emotional rollercoaster too, opening with the gorgeous, float away holiday music of ‘Vespertina’. It’s soaked in reverberating guitars, swelling electronic moods and bathed in shining, happy positivity.

Things change and ‘Glitches’ has a sense of menace as Smith spells out a future no one wants. It’s a nightmare scenario, all the more effective from being drawn from familiar names - Sainsburys, Deloittes, The Cheese Grater and WH Smith amongst others. Attention is turned to social media in ‘Chaldean Oracle’. It’s a shout for silence in musical form.

‘It’s A Wonderland’, which closes the album, is an 11 minute battle for your soul. It opens with birdsong set against a mechanical drone. It’s not hard to tell which makes the louder noise, and it doesn’t lay eggs. The boy’s vocals add a haunting element. Something is fading out and being lost and that something is innocence.

This could be a downbeat and depressing album. It’s not because the memories of happier times are still accessible. It may be a warning rather than a state of society address, an ember of hope to keep alight.

The poetry in this album is nothing to fear. It’s conversational, and full of striking images that strike home to unpoetical audiences.

Forgive the Eng Lit student reference, but it’s an update of Blake’s ‘Songs of Innocence and Experience’. Like Blake’s ‘tyger’ these pieces burn brightly.

Taster Track : Vespertina.

Notes On Listening : Suki Sou

Suki Sou’s collection of electronic pieces is a wonderful work that may open your ears to new ways of listening and receiving music.

Who is she? She’s a Burmese / Japanese / Chinese composer and sound designer. I know - it doesn’t sound as if there are many great choruses to find there does it? She has synaesthesia and experiences sound as colours in a tactile way. In an interview with Like A Ninja she says :

"The power of music to transcend cultural, linguistic, and physical barriers is truly bloody remarkable."

She’s not wrong, and sets out to demonstrate the truth of that statement in ‘Notes On Listening’.

Maybe it’s her different way of perceiving music, but she’s made an album of improvisations that are hypnotic and squelchy in a way that might appeal satisfyingly to the child in you. There’s an innocence and childlike simplicity to many of the pieces.

Sou’s titles tell their own story. She’s concerned with the elements - water, air and light - and manages to capture their qualities in music. The beauty in this album is inspired by what she sees and hears in the world around her. Take ‘Kelvin Helmholtz Clouds’ which can be best appreciated with an image of the clouds in front of you.

For the first time, I’ve understood the benefits that drones add to music. ‘Particles of Air’ begins with a drone that throbs and oscillates beneath a one note pulse. Its shifts are minute like a slowly changing early screensaver and hypnotically trance inducing.

This is such a calming record. ‘Velocity of Water’ is gentle like a stream tumbling through the Brecon Beacons on a warm, still Summer’s day

Quietness plays a big part in the effect of ‘Petrichor’ - the name given to the smell of rapidly drying grass after rain. You’re drawn in completely, and the sound of a shutting door closing out the sound of water comes as a jolt before you subside happily back into comfort.

I loved this album. It’s like hearing the world through a microscope with an aural stress ball. It’s only 28 minutes long, but its benefits will last for a long while.

Taster Track : Velocity of Water

The Chasing Pack

Ride Or Die : ARXX

It’s a dramatic title for a collection of alternative, queer rock songs. For all the heightened comic book drama of the title, it’s a collection that develops into a serious set of songs.

Arxx are Hanni and Clara. They know how to snag your attention. They provide short, rocky, young adult anthems such as ‘Baby Uh Huh’ and ‘Ride Or Die’, songs that are catchy without being annoying.

They may be from Brighton, but they sell America through their image, music and influences. The bottom line though is that their songs run deeper than the image suggests. There are serious feelings explored beneath the surface. ‘What Have You Done’ and ‘Never Want To Go Back’ are not a million miles from the serious perspectives of say Boy Genius and their individual members.

Taylor Swift is heard mainly in the lyrics and their expression. Try this from ‘The Last Time’

“Who knew the last time I saw you

Would be the last time I saw you.”

If you like these lyrics, and I do, you’ll enjoy the songs.

It sounds to me as if Arxx are part of a new movement in female rock. They describe their sound as Taylor Swift if she only listened to Nirvana. With a pitch like that, you’ve got to give it a listen, right? Taylor Swift and Dave Grohl would certainly approve.

Taster Track : Not Alone

Let There Be Music - Bonny Doon

It’s hard to dislike this engaging set of nostalgic country folk rock which is nicely played and well intentioned.

There must be hundreds of bands out there who build a strong local reputation, feature in the lower levels of summer festivals, and gig where they can, when they can. They deserve but never quite get the breakthrough to take them to a national level. Bonny Doon have broken through, their big break coming as the backing band for critically acclaimed singer Waxahatchee and support act to bands such as Band of Horses.

Opening track ‘San Francisco’ sets the tone. It’s simple and melodic with a bar room feel. It’s never going to change the world but it may leave a smile on your face and a warm glow in your heart. For a self described indie band they make the kind of music loven by the middle aged mainstream, making them ideal family entertainment.

There’s a 70s feel to many of the songs. They’re wrapped in denim and cheesecloth shirts, imbued with values that may have been drowned by cynicism and suspicion today. It’s no criticism to attach them to The Carpenters or the later works of Neil Sedaka.

It’s their mission to comfort, settle and reassure through their lyrics, tone and the nostalgic familiarity of the music. Take these lyrics from ‘Maybe Today’.

“What you need does come around

If you meet it halfway I’ve found.”

It’s the warm and optimistic tone, underscored by faint melancholy, of the Waltons at the end of an hour’s episode. It retains an innocence unburdened by the big city. Bonny Doon are the older brother your sister wishes she had. (Note to my three younger sisters - sorry they weren’t around when we were growing up!)

The songs may be gentle but they’ve taken steps to ensure that they’ll work live. There’s a high proportion with singalong potential. ‘Let There Be Music’, ‘San Francisco’ and ‘Maybe Today’ deliver songs that cry out for the audience to ‘la la la’ their way to the end.

It’s appropriate that closing track ‘Famous Piano’ simply fades away as if waking from the spell cast by the rest of the album.

This is a band that seem like very nice people. They’re in love with their music and they want to share that love around.

Taster Track : Let There Be Music

The Walls : Holly Henderson

Holly Henderson is a serious but intense and distinct performer, a contender for future plaudits and acclaim.

She’s certainly a skilful songwriter. Her songs are fully developed. There’s one problem though. Something is dragging the songs down, making it difficult for them to achieve lift off. The clues are there in some of the titles. ‘Sleep Until October’, ‘Weary Stars’ - the songs sound as exhausted in places as these titles suggest, and their cumulative effect can be oppressive. They’re songs from the dreamworld of a restless sleep.

Perhaps it’s the changes of pace in songs such as ‘The Planes’ that scupper songs as they start to fly, aborting take off. She has the ideas that could tackle this. The ragtime fill to ‘Sleep Until October’ shows a fertile imagination even if, on this occasion, it doesn’t make the song any lighter. The woodwind in ‘Fight The Need’ is the kind of nice touch that’s needed more often.

Her voice is the voice of someone who joins Mayday festivals to dance around the maypole, or who congregates at Stonehenge to greet midsummer. There’s something a little pagan about it that’s appealing.

Henderson has the makings of an artist who will command a fiercely loyal, cult following. She’s made for something like The Green Man festival. She offers a distinct musical world that may not appeal to everyone yet, but with an element of rebirth to lighten the songs, crossover mainstream success won’t be far away.

Taster Track : Fight The Need

Corridors : Kendrick Scott (with Ruben Rogers and Walter Smith lll)

It’s a while since I listened to proper jazz, but this was a good way to return to it.

Kendrick Scott plays drums, on bass there’s Ruben Rogers and completing the trio there’s Walter Smith lll on saxophone. Together they’ve made an album described as ‘post-bop’. I’m always a little nervous of technical, daunting jazz terms but effectively this means play what you like, how you like. The result is that this is free from clattering, squalling noise and is musical throughout. It’s a record with the relaxed feel of musicians getting together after hours.

If ever there’s a record that exemplifies the generosity of allowing musicians to take the spotlight on your solo record, it’s this one. The most striking, upfront feature on most tracks is Walter Smith lll’s saxophone. Rogers’ bass is given its moments, particularly on the lengthy intro to ‘Corridors’. Scott plays drums as if he is simply having the best time, lost in his world yet still meshing together all the contributions. When he takes centre stage, as on ‘Your Destiny Awaits’ he has to seize his moment just like the others. As the titular group leader he has to be good, and he is.

These are three gifted musicians, three creative and spontaneous individuals forming one musical team. It’s as if Pep Guardiola has managed to find places for Grealish, Foden and De Bruyne in the Manchester City starting 11 - and what a mouthwatering attraction that would be!

As I’ve often said, switch off from this as jazz and just listen to the different elements combining to make good music. ‘What Day Is It?’ blends busy beats and rhythms to the alternately fluid and stabbing notes of the saxophone. I’ve never heard backing vocals on this kind of record before, but they're there and effective in ‘One Door Closes, Another Opens’. It’s as if the sounds of The Fifth Dimension are leaking through from the studio next door. And once you have your ears around that, luxuriate in the tone of the sax on ‘A Voice Through The Door’. It’s husky, melodic, calm and controlled.

The control is important for the listener as well as the group. ‘Isn’t This My Sound Around Me?’ is more of a wig out. This listener felt he was losing control of the music as if he was on a corkscrewing rollercoaster with no way out. Ultimately though, it showed that trust in the group was well placed.

This is a record that captures why and how jazz can influence so many other genres.

Taster Track : A Voice Through The Door

Dreamer : Nabihah Iqbal

Nabihah Iqbal is someone who offers something very different, taking risks which offer big rewards.

Like a flavour you can’t quite place but which makes a meal special, ‘Dreamer’ is an album that sounds almost familiar, carrying reminders of what you’ve experienced before but fashioning them into something new and unexpected.

This is an album of electronic music that carries with it the soul of the dancefloor and the echoes of a past that twists its music out of shape. The heavy chimes and purposeful beat of ‘In Light’ are like a political parade marching by. ‘Gentle Heart’ feels like a dance track, but a dance track that’s struggling its way through treacle. Just as you think you have its measure, you encounter the sparser electronica of ‘Sweet Emotion ( Lost In Devotion)’.

‘Sunflower’ is fuzzily muffled, coming at you from deep beneath the surface, struggling to be heard. ‘Dreamer’ is fuzzy too but with its shoegaze elements it’s reminiscent of a less dreamy Cocteau Twins. ‘Like Twilight’ has the deliberate patterns and pacing of The Durutti Column. And there’s a hook to grasp there, because just as both those acts are, Nabidah Iqbal is an outsider, an outsider both in her life and in relation to the musical mainstream.

Her vocals are submerged in the mix. In ‘A Tender Victory’ and ‘In Light’ they’re hardly heard, as if they can be barely uttered. In ‘Sunflower’ it’s as if she’s trying to convince herself of the truth in her lyrics, sounding them out as something to cling to.

Do I like it? Yes, I do for its difference and its risks and its stirring of the musical palate to make something that sounds new. More than liking it though, I’m intrigued by it and that’s what draws me back to listen to it again and again.

Taster Track : Gentle Heart

Reset : Panda Bear and Sonic Boom

This may sound like something new, but its roots are deeply buried in the sounds of 1950s America. It’s captivating rock and roll, but not as you’ve heard it before.

Panda Bear, christened Noah Lennox, is a member of Animal Collective, an alternative American band. Sonic Boom is Peter Kember, a former member of alternative rock band Spacemen 3. Together they’ve made something that is highly accessible but very different.

The opening to ‘Gettin’ To The Point’ is a shameless steal of Eddie Cochrane’s ‘Three Steps To Heaven.’ Buddy Holly is the donor to ‘Edge of the Edge’ and The Drifters deserve a shout out for the intro to ‘Livin’ In The After.’ They make these songs instantly familiar but strangely feral. This is how all rock and roll could have sounded if it had been left to grow unfettered by studio restraints and commercial concerns. It’s truly distinctive. It’s clever and it’s surprising.

One of the surprises is the surprisingly gentle ‘Edge of the Edge’. It’s not far from being the kind of song that could be sung acapella by street corner quartets.

This is music that’s grown up like Mowgli or Tarzan. ‘Everything’s Been Leading To This’ sounds as if it’s made out of the most rudimentary acoustic and electronic instruments available. Panda and Sonic’s alternating voices sounds as you would expect if Art Garfunkle had stopped gargling sore throat medication, but continued to duet with Paul Simon.

Each song relies heavily on repetition. The repetitions are designed to stir up an audience, sounding like nursery rhyme mantras or perhaps someone suffering traumatic shock. It’s an intoxicating blend of something dark and innocent pop, the wolf dressed in Granny’s clothes.

Listen to this album if you’d like to hear how music might sound in an alternative universe starting from the same teenage American diner but free from adult interventions.

Taster Track : Edge of the Edge

Shaking Hips and Crashing Cars : The Royston Club

We’re told that guitar based indie pop is an endangered species. The Royston Club give the lie to that with a polished and energetic debut that promises much and largely delivers.

Their origin story is the stuff of indie fairy tales. Four boys, friends at school, form a band and conquer their home town before setting out to explore the wider world. Wrexham can be proud to call them its own . Now it’s the turn of the wider world to discover them.

This is indie as a blend of new wave and Brit pop. It’s made for sweaty uni bars or the mid afternoon slots at big festivals. They have a knack for infectious riffs and nagging ear worm choruses. It’s exciting to hear a band set out with such confidence, energy and promise. At the moment they’re fizzing like a firework that flares brightly before burning out quickly. That burn out may not arrive for The Royston Club but, just in case, make the most of them now.

And they should last. There’s a lot more to them than three minute thrashes about chocolate and girls. In their main songwriter, Ben Matthias, they have someone who can build a satisfying song structure with melodies that stand out in unexpected directions. ‘52’ makes great use of a trio of vocalists. The lyrics may deal with adolescent, teenage concerns but they have maturity in them too.

I suspect that they won’t want to be constrained by any generic tag. Alongside the bouncing riffs and stirring choruses they can produce quieter moments as in ‘A Tender Curiosity’ and ‘Cherophobe’. It’s a minor complaint to say that ‘Cherophobe’ is a downbeat end to an album that is brimming with life and energy

If comparisons help, The Royston Club blend the catchy pop of Blossoms with the more worldly thrills of the Vaccines.

It seems that the football club may not be the only good thing coming out of Wrexham at the moment.

Taster Track : 52

Holiday Camp : Those Pretty Wrongs

This is a melancholy collection of jangling alt country. It weaves a spell that holds your attention and stays with you.

Above all, this is a jangle record that feels weighed down by sadness. Maybe that’s because drummer, Jody Stephens - one half of Those Pretty Wrongs - was a founding member of the highly influential band Big Star. Those of you with a memory for rock history will know that the other three founding members - Chris Bell, Alex Chilton and Andy Hummel - died aged 27, 59 and 60 respectively.

This album isn’t about the past, but it feels like Stephens has retreated from the world to try to make sense of senseless things and reconcile with them. This is music from the depths of the forest, gently played on a backwoods front porch to the insects, the trees and each other.

Of course, this is pure speculation but it would account for the mood it left me in. Taking the music at face value, it jangles slowly. The melodies are nicely understated. The harmonies are carefully and prettily done. They’re more Fleet Foxes than indie pop. It’s a record crafted from a real love of the music.

In some ways it’s a drummer’s record, Everything sounds deliberate, bang on the beat, even the vocals.

In its heavy melancholy, it is nevertheless, a lovely and beautifully crafted record.

Taster Track : Paper Cup

High School : Tim Heidecker

Here’s an album that draws a picture of an American past and character in enjoyable songs.

Heidecker started as an American comedian before adding film work and music to his CV. There’s an assured confidence in the sound of these songs, a sense that his expectations have been met and his entitlements have been received. That makes it more interesting that below the surface these songs are about looking back with regret, thinking over decisions made and not made, actions taken and untaken.

He’s a classic American short storyteller, familiar to fans of the independent film festivals or the short stories of TC Boyle. There are elements of Johnny Cash in the songs, although it’s a Johnny Cash transposed to an urban high school rather than a frontier town or a state prison.

The important thing is that it’s no hardship to listen to these songs. They’ll draw you in and absorb you. Heidecker tells a good story, even when they’re small scale reflections on his memories. These are songs that stand out for their observation and details.

Musically these are medium paced, strummed chugs with deft touches. It’s a mix of country, Americana and cosmic pop. A song such as ‘Future is Uncertain’ takes you off into a gentle reverie. It’s a relaxing state of mind.

This is strong, solid songwriting. It should be treasured and enjoyed.

Taster Track : Future is Uncertain

Noon : Twain

This is an impressive collection of delicate, fingerpicked songs with moments of undeniable gorgeousness. It raises a question though of whether you can have too much of a good thing.

Mat Davidson, the man behind Twain, is a man who feels deeply. These songs are his personal reflections on life and love, played in an acoustic lo-fi style and sung in a tone that calls to mind the best of Nordic and Scandinavian sorrows. Think of a meeting between Asgeir and Neil Young with Emiliane Torrini in your your backing band. It’s not quite of this world.

Davidson sings like a hermit buried deep in the woods, immersed in a place where a spiritual mythology is important and inevitable. The songs sound traditional and hymn like, vessels for truths and insights.

It’s a long album of 13 songs, running at just under an hour. And it’s too much. It feels as if you’ve found your way to an underpopulated party where you know no-one. You may be grateful initially that these songs seem to be sung to and for you alone, but at the back of your mind you’re uncomfortable and worried that you’ve been cornered by an obsessive with no prospect of escape.

To work the songs need gorgeous melodies and in songs such as ‘Noon’ and ‘The Light’ he provides these. They’re haunting and beautiful, immersive but oppressive too. On ‘Vitality’ he’s poised to leave singing behind and enter the realm of the wail.

You may feel smothered by the opaque lyrics such as these from ‘Vitality’

“Let vitality of tenderness

Live with all that we don’t know.”

It sounds good but it defeated me for meaning.

It’s mean to criticise an album for its strengths, but if this were an album of eight tracks rather than thirteen, it would be easier to digest.

Taster Track : Noon


As ever this week's Taster Track playlists can be accessed at or via the Spotify link on the Home Page. The link to the Youtube playlist is

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