I'm not over keen on singer-songwriter efforts, (there are so bloody many of them after all) so - and hopefully I don't sound like a portentious nobber here - this review should give an indication of how strong it is as a release.
Fuck The Writer - Keeping the Aspidistra Flying
Someone's got an Orwell fixation, never mind they'll get over it... Pithy comments from reviewers aside, it must be said that this is a compelling release, sharp, passionate and packing a lot of melodic punch. Predominantly acoustic based (with a lot of "found sounds" and lo-fi electronic fiddling) it's a release that's very much in the modern alternative singer-songwriter tradition. What gives this release its edge is the passion and the (sometimes mis-placed) energy on display. It never feels satisfied with itself. And it does begin with a bang. The opener, LoveYouStill doesn't so much beg for your attention as mug you; the scuzzy vocal hollers give way to a beautiful refrain half way through which really catches the listener out.
There's a lot of introspection, which I suppose shouldn't be a surprise; Don't Even Try to Understand is a strange tale, one that can only summoned up when someone's got too much time on their hands. For further proof, check out the soft laments Valery and the Valley or Soldiers of Night. There are the odd Beck-style moments that keep breaking through on Keep The Aspidistra... as well as the odd moments where I think I'm listening to Brian Eno; The vocal on London Pleasures doesn't half sound like Brian circa Before and After Science. It's a gentle, cajoling love song set in front of an acoustic backdrop. And humour... Leaving Amsterdam is a woozy, countrified two-step and somehow it evokes the feelings of an Amsterdam hangover to the last detail... I kid you not.
Melody is thankfully ever-present; Miss Her is a beautiful airy nothing whereas The River is a seductive counterpoint to LoveYouStill, it's soft and inviting with nice question answer vocals and mournful, For No-One-style brass backing. Check out 5left too, which shows similar qualities. The last track Floating is all of 10 minutes long, (the time issue always happens with the last track doesn't it?) and sounds pretty much like its title suggests. There's almost a feel of a chamber concert to the airy guitar work and mild psychedelics.
I'm not over keen on singer-songwriter efforts, (there are so bloody many of them after all) so - and hopefully I don't sound like a portentious nobber here - this review should give an indication of how strong it is as a release. It's an LP well worth getting you paws on.