'The World Famous Joseph Coward' is more of a projection than a fact: it's actually Joseph Coward's debut record, one that hopes to push Coward swiftly into the indie rock canon. Coward's song-writing is plaintive and traditional, taking inspiration from solo artists with the same wistful Romanticism while also trying to extract the fury and hot blood of rock 'n' roll bands.
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I haven't heard of Joseph Coward before, but then it's often the case in this business that the first time I hear of someone is when their first record comes out. This is pretty impressive stuff though, Coward has a clear and tuneful voice and a wry turn of phrase which he injects into simple, soulful pop songs which often come with a satisfying backdrop of buzzing, crunching guitar distortion which is at odds with the dreamy romanticism of his songwriting.
Opener 'Hypersleep' immediately brought to mind Echo & The Bunnymen when I put the record on, so it's no surprise at all to turn to the press release and see that Ian McCulloch is an inspiration. Another is Morrissey - an influence which becomes much more evident when he eases up on the gloomy distorto edge on numbers such as 'Thin' and 'Baby Hughes', from which point the album takes a somewhat lighter and dreamier turn, with side B easing away from the crunchy textures of the opening couple of tracks to let the listener focus on Coward's thoughtful, literate pop.
Things get a bit fuzzy again on closer 'Long Dream' though, a shoegazey mid paced bit of float'n'chug that rounds things off nicely. It's a really strong debut, catchy and intelligently written songs offset by some playfully weird tones that sometimes border on self-sabotage, and there's nothing I like more in pop artists than a bit of self-sabotage.
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