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Hand Built By Robots by Newton Faulkner

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Reviewed on 12th August 2007.


Hand Built By Robots

By Newton Faulkner

Quirky acoustic guitarists are not exactly redundant at the moment. So for something of this genre to be deemed 'important', in my opinion it has to be essential and most of all, interesting.

Newton Faulkner has taken off of late. His CDs sit proudly at the front of HMV as soon as you enter the store. Just as well it has an eye-catching cover, then. At the risk of running off on a tangent (what's new?) I have a mate who buys CDs solely on their covers. The last two he acquired were Damien Rice's 'O' ("It's a book... FOR A COVER!!") and a dancy mash up entitled 'Inside A Whale's Cock'. Interesting stuff.

This particular cover may well be one he enjoys. But since we last conversed he's had his second child, so money could be an issue. Add rent and council tax and I doubt he'll be too interested, to be honest.

I know not much of Newton, but I bet 'Dream Catch Me' is a single. Quiet radio-likes acoustic strum? Check. Something for all the family? Check. Husky voice? Check. Millions of you will love it.

"Dream, catch me when I fall"

Basically, it's just nice. The kind of thing your mum would sing while in the kitchen (personal experience and not sexism, PC fans) and get the words wrong: "dream catch me when I go". It's not very interesting, mind. The perfect ingredient to sell shitloads, so can't really fault that nice house and car wise, unfortunately.

'Feels Like Home' tones us down a bit. If we needed it. It's got a Norah Jones title. It sounds about as intense. Good job then that 'Teardrop' turns the amps up to 11 and goes for a full on rawk odyssey about half way through. Edgy stuff. Mam's least favourite track there.

Lyrically, it's varies between non-senseical rubbish ("I'm gonna grow myself a giant afro..") and clichéd acoustic balladeering ("People should smile more / I'm not saying there's nothing to cry for"). The piano comes out for 'Uncomfortably Slow' and it does help in changing the atmosphere a little, or at least providing some differentiation between the majority of the songs. It's the best thing here, and sounds like a later melancholic Beatles moment. A shame really, because it shows up the rest of the album as a wasted opportunity. Faulkner does undoubtedly have talent, and it is showcased on moments like this, but unfortunately (for us) the pound signs are focused directly on Jack Johnson's bank balance.

As an album, it makes the same mistake as those in the hip hop genre seem to make over and over again. It's far too long, containing several break-up interludes. Fourteen songs in and there's still three to go. I really couldn't give one anymore. I've never been able to pick up and instrument and couldn't put a song together if my life depended on it but I feel no shame in saying that the majority of 'Hand Built By Robots' is dull. Even an arse like Mika can be bloody interesting in some capacity, if slightly disturbing. Schadenfreude me Faulkner lovers, but I just can't see the appeal of such finger-clicking boredom. Life is too short.

There are no negative preconceptions here either - it's a genre than can be done to perfection if the music is interesting and well produced. Some finer moments of The Coral are good examples, especially 'So Long Ago'. Faulkner seems to be trying to appeal to the masses however, almost trying to be every one of his most successful predecessors.

Mum gives it an 8. Half it, take one off and you're about there.



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On 8th November 2007 at 18:41 Anonymous 5643 wrote...

Done pretty well for himself hasn't he? Nice one, mum.



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