If you like acid troubadours, you'll like this. Mercifully the styles are mixed up track by track, bringing a sense of freshness and inventiveness to the work.
Aaron Stout – Queens Live in Caskets
A fabbo album title I think you'd agree. And The Coronation is also a fabulous opener; replete with a synth sound that replicates a police siren. For some reason it reminds me of Mag Earwhig–era Guided by Voices. It must be that growling guitar and plodding drum combination. The next track Space Station starts off sounding like (and here I must apologise to the great Anthony Powell) a lot of owls squabbling in a bicycle factory, but settles down to become an affecting acoustic observation replete with the odd guitar effect. Lightspeed follows on very quickly, various synth effects - and that siren call again - create a strangely open environment for a whimsical acoustic ballad. A strange track indeed.
The next three tracks see Mr Stout adopting the mantle of acid-folk troubadour; Talk out of Turn, To Prague and Back and First Song for Jaclyn are all slightly bucolic ballads albeit with strange sonic twists and turns and the odd Buckley-ism thrown in for good measure. It's all good stuff and very much of the alt-folk canon.
All undoubtedly good stuff so far, but there are two tracks on this LP that merit your attention more than most; Fountain of Youth is another ballad in the folk tradition but this song sees a totally different approach than previous numbers. A female backing vocal helps matters, as does a doleful whistler. A sense of crystalline space is created that is very affecting indeed. The other track to listen out for is Story of My Life; a strange amalgamation of sample beats and Roxy-esque synths. The word "partly" is used, which is always a good thing. Stout's life-story is sung in a deadpan, bucolic manner, rather like a modern, youthful Silenus recounting his wanderings.
Well, what to say in conclusion? If you like acid troubadours, you'll like this. Mercifully the styles are mixed up track by track, bringing a sense of freshness and inventiveness to the work. It's just enough. Sprout keeps a light enough hand on the tiller, preventing the inherent identity of each track being swamped.
Words: Richard Foster.