|Label:||Rogue Records America|
Sometimes we review stuff because we like it and we want more people to hear about it. Sometimes we review stuff because we think people ought to know how bad it is and save themselves the trouble of having to find out for themselves. Most of the time we review stuff because the band, or more often the band’s marketing team, have sent it in to us and asked us to write about it. Obviously, some of this stuff is better than other stuff, and the decision to review can rest on whether anyone can be bothered to be nice / horrible enough about it on paper. The ultimate factor in my decision to pen this review was the band’s association, via a charity single release, with the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. Without wishing to sound as though I am on some kind of crusade, if you haven’t heard about S.O.P.H.I.E. and the story behind the organisation, please take a moment to look at their website.
The EP starts off with a bizarre little piece that lasts 24 seconds. If it had anything to do with the following track, I could understand this brief intro, but it doesn’t, and it left me thinking: “That was going to turn into something really nice, and instead it just finished.” This maybe set me off on the wrong foot for the rest of the EP. The second track, Caught Between Dreams and Reality, made me think, what if Fleetwood Mac’s Tango In The Night were remixed by a glitch producer? It needed more of the glitch for me, but so far, so inoffensive. I became aware of a rather aimless guitar noodling along, and then a bit of a ‘Sugar-Free’ Craig Armstrong style string section.
Track three, Filling In The Blanks, had a bit more to say for itself, but that aimless guitar was still wandering around, noodling unnecessarily. I found the track to be still not quite glitchy enough for my tastes, but it had much more of a beat behind it. Atmospheric piano seems to be very much de rigueur at the moment, and it’s not unpleasant, but somehow in this context it feels to be much of a muchness. Another odd little interlude followed that didn’t really seem to serve any purpose, still with the same meandering guitar. It sounded like - and I am pulling this scenario straight out of my imagination here - the beat producer sent a snippet to the guitarist and said: “What do you think of this new idea?” and then the guitarist had a little noodle over it while he was giving it a listen through and sent it back saying: “Yeah, not bad. I can’t really do anything with it though.”
Requiem (Sophie’s Song) is the charity release I mentioned in passing earlier, and I can’t bring myself to say anything bad about it. Except that it maybe has a slightly ‘mawkish’ feel. [I couldn’t help myself.] I don’t know if I felt that because I was aware of the inspiration behind the subject matter, or whether it is something inherent in the music itself.
Shorelines is again almost very good, except for the guitar. Again. On this track, it sounded like he was trying to do a Dave Gilmour, which anyone with any sense would just leave alone because you’re only going to end up sounding a bit shit in comparison. The track is rounded off with some nice tinkling pianos and a gratuitous sample of some seagulls – to remind the listener it is supposed to represent a shoreline, obviously. It made me think of the sadly now defunct daytime TV programme ‘Watercolour Challenge’ for some reason, and I had a pang of nostalgia. It passed.
The remix of that Fleetwood Mac sounding track which is stuck on the end of the EP is easily the stand out moment - it heads into a really rather tasty drum and bass territory, complete with ‘wob-wob’ noises and everything, which I think this band would do well to explore more fully. Just maybe, please, with a different guitar sound. Overall, I thought there were some nicely produced concepts going on, but it mainly felt like: “Your call is important to us - please hold” music. It wasn’t ambient enough to be able to ignore it, but not really interesting enough to captivate the listener either, unfortunately.
Posted: Mon 9 July 2012