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Monkey Steps by Water

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Reviewed on 1st April 2002.


Monkey Steps

By Water

Bradford's Water pleasingly don't fit the usual sweaty longhaired contingent of the city. This album is proficiently played by 3 talented musicians, produced by former Cure levels changer Steve Whitfield, has as much professionalism about it as you would hope, and 11 (that's eleven) songs that borrow a number of classic ideas... but... falls flat on its face when it comes to lasting appeal.

It's clear that a lot of time, effort and love have gone into making this album. Here are three complimenting musicians who clearly enjoy one another's company and the music they are playing. Unfortunately somewhere along the way it feels like Water forgot to listen back to what they had actually recorded in it's entirety i.e. all the songs back to back. If they had, then there might have been some reconsideration on piling so many tracks onto one CD. If this were narrowed down to an EP of the strongest 3 or 4 songs it could work. But with so many tracks, it drags its heels and loses the listener long before the halfway point.

Some strong (and memorable) choruses are badly needed to lift the songs amongst the impressive but nullifying guitar-twiddling verses. The vocal performance is strong and although sounding like Jim Morrison, lead singer Dave Hemmingway too often fails to adopt any of his spirit. Comparisons I could allude to are the likes of Grant Lee Buffalo and also Johnny Cash but they are never strong enough to please. Momentary highlights are track 3 "Somedays" with it's text book indie intro, track 7 "Somethings & nothings" has enough about it to wake up the middle of the album and last track "A song for summer" has a Divine Comedy charm about it. But too often the songs roll into one another with only minor differences in tempo and overall sound. The occasionally naive lyrics fortunately get buried most of the time but when left exposed as in "Tilt n'rock" or "Summer Breeze" they produce a 'first time you smell Stilton' grimace on your face.

One can only assume that Steve Whitfield actually engineered and recorded the band as opposed to produced them in the traditional sense. Surely had the latter been the case he would have pointed out a few of the issues facing the band in the songwriting department. On the scale of it, this is an impressive and ambitious venture. You would struggle to find many other local bands that could consistently play so well over 11 tracks, but often the reason for this is because someone said "Hey you know those other 7 songs you are doing? Lose them!". Had the same happened to Water then this would be a very different review.



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