By Our Small Capital
The way I see it, at least James Frey (the author of embroidered memoir 'A Million Little Pieces') made up a decent story. Write it up with verve and emotion and I'll happily accept the legend over the facts. That guy knows how to make the highs and lows of addiction just as addictive as William Burroughs and Charles Bukowski before him. This record sure could have done with some of that gritty substance, and maybe William Campbell is the type of guy who is capable of delivering it, if the allusions to dependency on his Wikipedia profile are correct. Instead he seems to have mainly taken inspiration from his time as a member of Gary Lightbody's Reindeer Section.
Our Small Capital are Campbell's new vehicle after the collapse of his previous band Astrid. This four track EP trundles along in typical mainstream indie fashion (see Snow Patrol) occasionally sparked in to life by flashes of lyrical insight. Campbell barely scratches the surface for the most part though seemingly content to rely upon generalisations. He rarely hints at any personal involvement perhaps trying to avoid another tired modern cliché; the junkie masquerading as musician.
"If you drink enough poison/ Your skin gets thicker/ You become immune/ To bad news, and love." - excerpt from 'Regret School'
Opener 'River' could easily pass for the theme song from an angst-y teen drama. A steady beat, crystal clear vocals, guitars and pedals kicking in heavy on the chorus backing Campbell's jaded-by-experience refrain ["It's a childish thing to use the word forever."] Second track 'A Way Around The Gospel' quickly begins to grate, primarily due to the amount of times they use and draw out the word gospel. A minor point but a major irritation. 'Rhesus Positive' reminds me of the Manics circa Everything Must Go, in the post-Richey tailspin period. At least they finish strongly with perhaps their best track, the acoustic lament 'Regret School'.