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A Short Course in Long Term Happiness by Gamma Ray Sam

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Reviewed on 15th November 2006.

 
 

A Short Course in Long Term Happiness

By Gamma Ray Sam

I'd be surprised if the irony in the title of this album was lost on anyone who listened to it. As per usual the PR pamphlet that came along with said album tells me that it is 'highly acclaimed'. I'd like to know by whom it is 'highly acclaimed' and see if they would like me to turn up their hearing aid because on the most part this is self-indulgent hippy drivel and by the time I got to track 12 I was ready to dry my hairstyle in the gas oven and scrawl a note, blaming it on Gamma Ray Sam.

I think the biggest problem with the album is that the lead singer doesn't have a voice that's easy on the ears (or the psyche). I have a suspicion that some of the songs could even be described as reasonably good if they weren't being whined through the nose. I like an acoustic slow song as much as the next nice girl but 10 out of 12 songs is taking the piss. I had originally intended to write up all 12 but why waste my time and yours. So we'll stick to the positives for a couple of paragraphs.

The first song 'A Romantic Hanging' (already you begin to decipher the meaning of the head-in-oven comment) is not a great opener but is saved by a soaring bittersweet chorus and a short lived burst of optimism.

The second song 'Singing to Myself' has a cheery hillbilly style and rhythm and is a great deal less maudlin than the first song, if not the whole album.

Number three, 'Household Tales' has a deep and heavy beat and a mystic airy-fairy background melody that work well together and some rather pretty lyrics, 'Sweeter than a fairytale's end. She's every colour in the city'. Nice if you like that sort of thing. The song is ultimately destroyed by a bizarre ending consisting of a Morcheeba like echoing (again, nice if you like that sort of thing) which is then bashed into non-existence by some violent guitar chords, an ill advised Phoenix Nights style organ and a few notes on a harp. Hmmm...

The one song that stands out and saved the album from a serious verbal bashing from yours truly is track five, 'Melody Is Not The Enemy'. The intro sets it out to be something much more promising than anything heard so far or anything you'll hear on the rest of the album for that matter. It's full of clear trumpets and lethargic guitars that make you want to stretch out on the beach and get sunburnt. The group vocals are warm, soothing and the perfect antidote to, well, the rest of the album. The only bone I'd have to pick is that it's more than a little skinny on the lyrics. As the only lyrics in the entire song are 'Melody is not the enemy. All along it's been apart of me.' And it works because the quality of the playing is so great and the instrumental interludes are so beautiful. It reminded me of old soul and Zero 7's second album. I loved it. I think this is what sunset in Ibiza was like before it was invaded by the ASBO generation.

And that's it. I don't have anything else nice to say so I won't anything more at all.

 

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