Say what you like about the Kaiser Chiefs, but the fact that their drummer wrote all of the songs was novel if nothing else. The tub-thumper in question Nick J.D. Hodgson left the group in 2012, but now he re-emerges with Tell Your Friends. His first solo LP demonstrates a more wide-ranging compositional palette than people might have expected. Lead singles ‘Suitable’ and ‘RSVP’ are lovely, chunky pop ditties ala recent Tame Impala.
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He predicted a riot, he loved you less and less and he ruby ruby ruby ruby ruby'd but since leaving the Kaiser Chiefs Nick Hodgson has kept a lower profile...if a lower profile includes writing songs for the likes of Duran Duran and Shirley Bassey. But it's now time for the solo album and the result is something like what you'd expect, an album of confident songwriting that lacks the charisma and swagger of his former bandmates.
What Hodgson does have is severe writing chops. 'Tell Your Friends' has several guilty pleasures that in hands of others could be pretty major hits. 'Suitable' is the album standout - a superbly melodic ballad that if performed by Take That would rinse the very last dribble of tears out of their audience. In Hodgson's hands it's more like Tame Impala - lite. He has a thin characterless voice that doesn't help matters and some of the songs are just teeth grindingly naff but here and there are scattered little moments of excellence. It's better when he stretches out arrangement - wise 'Feel Better' is an excellent Beach Boys'esque haze-ballad and I think with more daring Hodgson could have made something more sonically adventurous.
I'm not even sure why I'm writing this review as barely a Normans customer will be interested in this type of thing. I'm just fascinated by good pop songwriting and 'Tell Your Friends' comes across more as a showcase for Hodgson's talents rather than a bona fide solo album that could stand on it's own terms. Too many tracks sound like demos for the next the Feeling album but as Hodsgon knows you only need one track to be picked out by famous-people-in-need-of-a-song and you are made for life....and if 'Suitable' isn't that song then I'm a sausage.
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- Tell Your Friends by Nick J.D. Hodgson
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