Uncomplicated but delicious.
Substance or style is a question that is often asked but never answered in music. On the one hand, you could have a band or singer who are undoubtedly talented, able to sing/write songs with technical brilliance but are bland to the extent of mediocrity or, worse, a contestant on an ITV1 talent show to find a new pop star or, worse still, stage actor. On the other, you could have an image so sharp that it could shave Rasputin and a voice so distinctive that you could be identified by Inuits listening on wind up radios, but only have the musical chops of a dingo. The boring and unsubstantial answer is that the ideal way to be is a halfway between the two, but most people agree that they would plump for one or the other. After all, Leona Lewis sells records as the Sex Pistols did.
I Was A Boyscout however do actually fit neatly in the middle of this particular analogy. There is enough chutzpah on the impossibly long-titled “I Want You To Know That There Is Always Hope” to mark them aside from the run of the mill indie bands that make up Jo Wiley's playlist and enough ability to actually sing and play their instruments with technical proficiency and feeling. Whether this is a good thing or not is pretty much down to the individual. On the one hand they are the perfect indie band of 2008 but on the other they find themselves in somewhat of a aesthetic no-man's-land where people who want more than the other will easily pass them by.
Thankfully, “I Want You To Know That There Is Always Hope” is a triumph, no matter how you dissect and carve it up. As is suggested in the title, this is a rather soaring, feel good effort that does its very best in lightening up the listener's day. And it does this rather well. “Save Your Wishes” is rousing, “Lucean” is tender and considered and “Our Smallest Adventures” does upbeat and quirky better than most, adding the crux of the album with its optimistic refrain (“there's nothing we can't do”). I Was A Boyscout seem to be clever enough to be able to pick out all of the elements that will make them stand out without forgetting what it takes to gain respect from the self considered connoisseurs of recorded sound. Much more than a compromise, “I Want You To Know That There Is Always Hope” should satisfy, please and delight those that listen to it.