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- Troubadour by The Stepkids
7/10 Clinton Staff review, 05 September 2013
The world is still something of a mystery to me. There are still so many questions left to be answered. What, for example, is a horse? I’m damned if I know. Answers on a postcard please. Similarly baffling is how this record of great Steely Dan-ish pop interrupts itself on track four to provide us with a ballad which is utterly shit, because elsewhere the album has moments which are pretty damn great.
Opener ‘Memoirs of Gray’ is sophisticated complex pop music that sits somewhere betwixt Justin Timberlake and Field Music and no I’m not kidding. The title track is the most Steely Dan of the batch with jazz inflected keyboard motifs with those classy tight harmonies on the chorus (listen closely and you can almost hear the background vocals of Michael MacDonald). It’s truly great and to these ears you can never have enough Steely Dan in the world, real or fake.
‘Desert in the Dark’ is off kilter bleepy yacht rock with that kind of strange sense of menace that ran through some of Hall and Oates’ early ‘80s work. The band are obviously completely in love with ‘80s smooth grooves, the album is full of warm synths, Mark King-like bass skronks, harmonies and keyboard sounds.
It might be too Loggins for many of you out there but despite the odd aforementioned anomaly there are some really strong songs here that seem like non-hits from another era. It’s not, however, some hipster lo-fi bedroom produced attempt, these are a collective of singer songwriters with backgrounds in funk, psychedelia and jazz which may be slightly to its detriment; it could just be a little polished to be comparable to the Toro Y Moi et al brigade.
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