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I can’t help but feel that this Lawrence Arabia (surely not his real name!) is rather in thrall to David Byrne, both with and without his Talking Heads. And I don’t mean that in a bad way either, because this guy’s doing it very well and this is really soulful, catchy, lush minimal pop. Looking at the press release it would appear he’s had a little help from the talented Connan Mockasin too, among others, which is pretty cool. There’s bit of a baroque, arranged feel with quite varied instrumentation which in places reminds me of the Divine Comedy a little...when it gets brassy in the likes of ‘Lick Your Wounds’ there’s more than a slight resemblance to Beirut too.
Generally speaking though, this is a selection of classy, shuffling pop gems with minimal orchestral arrangements which have enough detail and warmth in them to keep you entertained for days, although it’s the snappy Afro-inflected arranged wonky groove-pop that’s his real strength and when he gets mired down in the piano-led ballad ‘Bicycle Riding’ it does feel like a bit of a trudge, it’s certainly a relief at the end of the following track when there’s some filthily distorted violin screeching a la Dirty Three to scuzz things back up a little and keep things from straying too far into safe and boring territory, and then there’s the sinister spy-movie strings and bright, busy bass bounce of ‘Early Kneecappings’ and I feel like we’re back in business.
Over the course of the album in fact I’d say the aforementioned ‘Bicycle Riding’ is the only misstep, and it evolves through various styles of psychedelic arranged pop, with the Byrne flavour drifting in and out but always present, particularly in opener ‘Travelling Shoes’ and ‘The Bisexual’. It’s smooth, sensual, sophisticated and unusual music for fans of polished grown-up pop.
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