A record of many directions
The album starts with a sad guitar cadence like that of Blur's 'Mellow Song', but not quite as melancholy, it then reaches the chorus with a little bright poingy keyboard motif that's reminiscent of Bell X1's 'Rocky Took A Lover', but not quite as merry as that; the song is called 'A Romantic Hanging' and is quite gripping, but not quite as much as you'd like it to be.
But the album hops from one thing to another afterwards; with fun Beatles meets John Southworth meets Suede meets Beck bits coming in from all angles. It's a bit all over the place, but delightfully so the more you listen to it...
They in fact just sound like they're having quite a lot fun with the whole writing/recording process, which is always great to hear. There are more serious songs like 'Household Tales', which itself creates a gloomy atmosphere with the deep bass that haunts its lower regions and then transmutes into a lovely fairytale ending as it sails out into a repeating refrain annexed by a swoosh of low-end melody, and there are all-out hootenannies like 'Singing To Myself' which is just pure fun throughout.
The quality wavers a bit in the middle as it starts to seem a little slow and as if it's just dragging along, with not a lot of musical intuition over the softly strummed acoustic guitar skeletons of the songs, but in all it does well to recapture the listener at certain points.
Points such as the soft 'Oh Darling'-like pangs of 'Emma and Anne' and the Lou Reed/Velvets-esque 'She's On the Money', which has that pounding keyboard, down-strummed guitar, and whined wine-drenched vocals like those of our aforementioned classic 60s group.
From 'Can't Cry for Tears', which is a very nice little swing-step ballad, out to the finisher 'A Fate Worse Than Nothing', the album is very strong and poignant. 'Don't Know What' is a bit like 'Room On Fire' Strokes with a Josh Rouse drumbeat and the lazy feel of the Goo Goo Dolls, now there's a comparison you don't hear everyday...
'No Such Thing' has a wide scope to its musicality, a verse structure that stretches beyond time frames and leads into a more conventional chorus that is strangely hum-mable. It has a Britpop feel to it, like Radiohead penning songs for Oasis, or the other way round, incorporating the emotional depths of the former and melding them with the enthusiastic reach of the latter. A good tune that leads well into the ender 'A Fate Worse Than Nothing.'
It's soft and lo-fi, like 'You're So Great', Graham Coxon's first beautiful record that can be found on the album Blur, there's a sadness to the lyrics and the voice, but overall, as the cymbals crash in, it becomes a paean of hope, being sung to the future, and it's a future that looks pretty bright for Gamma Ray Sam, who've certainly impressed with this album in its entirety. A good record and one that elicits interest for what's to come.