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Everyone Loves A Villain by Captain Wilberforce

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Reviewed on 16th March 2008.


Everyone Loves A Villain

By Captain Wilberforce

This release is quite a confusing listen. The explosive, fuzzy power-pop 'gems' of Captain Wilberforce's previous releases set the tone, with a thoroughly tolerable, bubbly aim to please. But the whole template of the album seems a little flat pack in nature. It readily locates the dots, and successfully joins them up, but without much great invention. Like a prefab building, this set of songs seem to take all the necessary materials, and assemble them in the most functionally derivative of manners.

Each track nods reverently to the great pop exploits of the past; there are ELO-esque aahs and string embellishments; Manics at their most mainstream, crunchy guitar chugging; Who-style windmill power chords; soaring Lennon and McCartney backing vocal harmonies, and some observant lyrical insouciance of almost the same ilk as The Kinks. And it's all perfectly competent; every instrument and every hook does its job, but no more. It's consistently effective, but plain all the same. There are some appropriately serviceable moments, such as the guitar solo in the title track, and the organ solo of 'The Girl Who Broke Her Own Heart', which seem inserted for purely symbolic effect, as if the song wouldn't be complete without them. Yet they absolutely undermine any possible novel content in the music. A digitized harpsichord sound crops up in a few of the songs, aping the Beach Boys gentle arpeggio toddle, or the exuberant chime of the Beatles 'Getting Better', but due to its soulless tone and stuck-in-there-for-the-sake-of-it manner, just doesn't hit the mark.

Captain Wilberforce yearns to be ingenious and exciting like the Super Furries or The Flaming Lips, to happily sit down next to them beaming with the glee of a very clever child. The cheeky auto-wah guitar line of 'Born Again Brand New Man' is so very reminiscent of said bands, but it once again serves to remind of the borrowed character of most of the songs on 'Everyone Loves A Villain'.

All of this isn't to say that there isn't a great attempt at proper song writing here, which there very definitely is. Unfortunately however, the whole project reeks of ultimate contrivance. Of course, all pop music, in fact all non-improvisational art forms are to a certain extent necessarily premeditated, but the magic of great pop is that it manages to hide its ostensible construction. While there are some fantastically whistleable melodies, and truly lovely chord changes at work, there remains a total absence of genuine freshness. The sanitary effect of what seems a super-slick and polished Pro tools production job, only serves to detract from the achingly ambitious content. Flat as a pancake, the veneer of clean crispness doesn't equate for newness, but renders the sound impotent, with any possibility of originality in form a feeble prospect.

'Everyone Loves A Villain' eagerly seeks approval, and elicits much to like, but not necessarily love, and certainly not to excite. The most ill-advised of the album's blemishes is to be found in the outwardly pessimistic acoustic-led closer 'The Twilight Kids', which offers a lackadaisical reflection on the supposedly common sentiment that climate change is irreversible. Describing a vision of the earth as "dead", a dystopian future awaiting us whilst we "make the same mistakes our parents did... scared to look the truth in the eye" apparently because there's "nothing anyone can do", we're then reassured in two lines that really "it's not too late". Nice sentiment for sure, but unfortunately, as with much of the rest of the album, it's delivered with a hopeless unfeeling, which no amount of feigned imagination can ever compensate for.



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On 4th August 2008 at 14:51 Anonymous 3944 wrote...

This review is rubbish... its a magnificent album


On 31st March 2009 at 22:25 Anonymous 660 wrote...

I couldn't disagree with a review more!

Everyone loves a villain is possibly the greatest album any Leeds-based artist has ever produced.

Sure it's easy to spot influences. Why should that be a problem?

Excellent songs, very clever songwriting, tremendous performances and wonderful production.




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Captain Wilberforce

Northern Pop in the tradition of Badly Drawn Boy, Longpigs, Elbow and The Smiths

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