By Gramercy Arms
Whilst it would be unduly dismissive to deny that this album has its moments, the overall effect is one of pastiche without due injection of fresh ideas. Opener 'Automatic' is lively enough, in a bouncy chorus driven fashion but, save for a nice taut guitar line, suffers from being slightly soulless and repetitive. Disappointingly however, it turns out to be the album high point. From here on in we have a string of slightly more stripped-down numbers which the occasional infusion of handclaps, summery harmonies and well-plucked guitar can't save from being rather bland and uninspiring.
The downbeat numbers are less permeated with introspective profundity than something from the mopier and more forgettable end of 90s Britpop, whilst the jauntier numbers are simply not arresting enough. Occasionally two or three minutes of not entirely unmelodic meandering threatens to erupt into an engaging crescendo, but the songs tend to fizzle out in less than spectacular fashion. The chiming thread of the lead guitar is sometimes used to good effect, but not often enough, and forgettable rhythm tracks shuffle along backing equally forgettable lyrics. Even those that aren't drawn from the big book of M-O-R cliché (e.g. 'Walking to the 4-5-6 / The Marquee Moon was in eclipse / Somehow we let the moment slip', or 'You could take out the King / But you leave the pawn') seem slightly contrived in their construction and are casually thrown away.
A couple of tracks towards the end of the disc have slightly more to attract the attention, albeit in flawed fashion.
'Automaton' is a gently brooding slice of jangle pop with a nice bit of organ weaved into the mix, which could even leave you humming the tune after its abrupt conclusion. And 'I Believe' somehow bolts onto a familiarly generic melody the ernest chorus and drum work of someone trying to recreate the Jesus and Mary Chain with a couple of cardboard boxes. The result is interesting rather than good. After this the album drifts off with Moving Slow, which does exactly what it says on the tin, and some neat picking on the fade-out makes you wonder what could've been achieved if these guys actually had a few more tunes up their sleeve.