The Fine Arts Showcase – Radiola
After a rather wheezy brass band introduce us, The Shoplifter's Union stomps into the listener's consciousness. One thing that is immediately apparent is the sound; big, romantic, somewhat Spector-esque and slightly overblown, a la McAlmont and Butler. Oh and one mustn't forget the sentiment; it's unashamedly romantic. If you're feeling cynical it might be a good idea to forego the pleasures of listening in. Still if you're receptive it's very enjoyable stuff. Danish Light is a sentimental love song, awash with strings and swirling arrangements. I will have to take the singer's word as to the romantic efficacy of Danish light. Said substance has certainly produced a memorable pop song...
Be warned oldies; this is an album aimed squarely at the teenager's yearning heart. If you find the sentiment of the song Chemical Girl somewhat cloying it's only because you yourself once held similar views (ones which you thought you would never renounce). If you are a teen you'll probably be playing this track over and over and over... Suede-isms are gloriously unrestrained on this song, even down to the guitar sound. Following this is I Don't Worry; a fairly straight forward acoustic ballad, it's okay but it isn't distracting.
What's next? A song called Brother in Black? Who is influencing this LP? Lee Hazlewood? J Cash esq? It actually does have a feel of the mighty Lee, seriously meant, but ever so slightly cheesy in its sonic and lyrical content. Oh its okay I suppose. After the very nice instrumental (Part II) we get the fuzz attack of Frida and I, another uplifting tale of young love. There's a musical nod to Waiting for My Man and lots of exuberance. Or So I've Hyrd is next up, arguably the best track on the LP as it restrains any blustery tendency to concentrate on the essentials. The chiming guitar run the song is enmeshed in is also of considerable charm.
Good God, human beat box? Well a little bit starts off the Voice of Goldstein, a slightly nondescript number full of sound and fury but signifying little... Anna and the Moon is a charming interlude before Spanish Kerosene which is much more like it, as it has a great pounding, purposeful rhythm. The Nick Cave-isms I noticed are for once not misjudged. It's incredibly reminiscent of Cave in its rolling piano accompaniment and dum-be-dum drum fills. Last up is the charmingly named Laughter, a big ballad and full of sentiments you'd expect. I quite like the world-weary bravura of it all, I have to say.
So, in conclusion... It's all very worthy and heartfelt, and it does feel very young. God, maybe I'm just too old... There's talent there but it needs working on in my humble opinion. Still it's pleasant enough and certainly not to be dismissed. Ideally it should come with a sticker; "Warning! For teens only" oofph!
Words: Richard Foster.