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Despite being best known for the one-off hit 'You're Gorgeous', Babybird aka Stephen Jones should be most lauded for his initial run of lo-fidelity records he released in the early '90s, now collected on the essential 'The Original Lo-Fi' box set. Since then, though, his career has wavered between attempts to re-create the oddly endearing pop of 'the hit years' and more soundtracky work. Not a note of it, though, has resonated with anything like the intensity of those eerie early recordings. It pains me a little to have to say such things about an artist who has truly inspired me but this could only be described in one word, 'absolutely terrible'. The warning signs are there from the beginning with the horrid faux funky opener 'The Jesus Stag Night Club' featuring a certain Johnny Depp on guitar. 'Beautiful Haze' is a melodic Badly Drawn Boy type piano led romp but it's a shame that a man with such a good voice is cluttering his arrangements so. 'The Best Day of our Lives' and 'I Love Her' are tuneful if skin crawlingly sentimental. 'Not Love' informs 'this is not a love song'. John Lydon call your lawyers. A little of the old magic re-appears on 'Can't Love You Anymore' with a little space in the arrangements letting Jones's voice soar but even when things are stripped back as on 'A Little More Each Day' the effect is cloying.
9/10 WingedVictoryForTheSullen 29th October 2011
First of all, can I point out that 'absolutely terrible' is two words, not one.
Going by your review, I think I can assume that you're a fan of Babybird's early Lo Fi period. If so, then your criticisms puzzle me. Firstly, you take issue with the 'horrid faux funky' sound of The Jesus Stag Night Club, which seems odd to me given that the Lo Fi works (which you claim to love) are littered with tacky, Casio funk tracks. In fact, they were a staple of almost all of those early albums. They had a weird charm of their own and made for great interludes between the "eerie" intense stuff (that latter term seems strange to me as well - Babybird are willfully strange and often very dark but intense? Nah, not really). I like The Jesus Stag Night Club, it's chaotic and fun and serves as a great opening song.
You go on to berate Jones for his sentimentality. Really?! Babybird have always conveyed a heightened sentimentality. In fact, that's his shtick! Jones often pours it on thick, especially when it concerns the fairer sex (he reminds me of Tom Waits in that regard). Only difference here is that Jones has a bigger studio arsenal at his disposal. It probably sounds overdone to your ears. To my ears, it sounds sweeping and grand.
Your jibe at 'This is not a Love Song' is pretty petty. You want to me to make a list of great lyrical songs with naff titles? Because it would fill this page and then some. Next time you take issue with a songs lyric, quote the actual lyric, yeah?
In fact, this whole review is a bit of a sham (and really poorly written - Ed?). Had I not heard the new album (which, by the way, is fantastic and the best album Jones has made since There's Something Going On), the only thing I would learn from this review is that the arrangements are 'cluttered'. Other than that, I can only suggest that next time you decide to review an album, give the artist a fair crack and not let your own laziness derail the whole thing.
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