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Tabasco Soul by The Voluntary Butler Scheme

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Reviewed on 31st May 2009.


Tabasco Soul

By The Voluntary Butler Scheme

That The Voluntary Butler Scheme have garnered any attention at all outside their home town of Stourbridge is something to cheer the heart of traditional twee indie kids everywhere. Here's a fellow (in the shape of Rob Jones) who cobbles together songs out of low-fi instruments, tape loops and - it would appear - pots, pans and the kitchen sink too. It's hard to deny that the whole thing has a certain charm, as anyone who recently caught him gigging at Holy Trinity church might attest. The appeal there was almost as much a visual one as he desperately tried to keep on top of his looped effects and ramshackle equipment.

Of course the twee can easily become cloying, with a reliance as much upon sympathy as genuine respect for the musical output. The chap's a good chuckle for half an hour in the live environment, but would you actually spend time spinning his discs in the comfort of your own living room? Well, the answer in this case is... possibly. 'Tabasco Sole' and flip-side 'Split' are tuneful enough not to annoy, and the lyrics just clever enough to carry the weight inevitably placed upon them in what is essentially singer-songwriter territory. (For the record this is a notional band of three, but the keys and drums men appear to be operating largely as hired studio hands.)

It's possible to see 'Tobasco Sole' garnering repeat plays due to its attention to looped melodic structure. This ensures that listenability outlasts the novelty appeal of, frankly, daft lyrics such as 'Play piano in the lift / Push the pushbike down the stairs.' But these tunes are perhaps just slightly too fragile to achieve the anthemic potential of earlier demo 'FFffoolish' which, whilst still built of the same components, had a coherent 60s retro-pop sensibility. And the jury's still very much out on the final bonus track included here, an audaciously audience-polarizing cover of 'Together in Electric Dreams'. At least, with its meld of fragile vocals and (apparently) sampled swanee whistles and clucking chickens, no-one will be able to accuse The Voluntary Butler Scheme of pursuing the lazily obvious.



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