Battle of The Grumbles – Thomas Nation (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

29495757_1688938834518753_5033431066497515520_nPerfection is by and large over-rated. Let me qualify that with a question. Is it better to capture the most perfect version of  a song with little merit or to commit to prosperity a deft and delicious set of songs recorded on a minimal budget and with fairly basic facilities? I guess it comes down to which you value more beauty or brains. Not that the music that Blue House frontman James Howard makes under the moniker of Thomas Nation isn’t beautiful in its own hazy, rustic way, but it is natural beauty, an honest beauty and for me that is the only real beauty.

It’s a mercurial sound that Nation captures here, drifting and wistful, it often oozes rather than drives, blending washes of church organs and spoken word with dark baroque pop, hints of 60’s nostalgia and twisted folk styles. It is such an approach which flavours the lyrics too and tales of a forgotten London, and indeed a forgotten world slips by mixing the frivolous and fun with the serious, the macabre and the melancholic.

It echoes with the sound of The Kinks had they focused less on the obvious pop melody and take a more windswept and soundscaping approach but it is largely its own person, musically speaking, and that is what it is of ultimately important. Originlity is paramount and Battle of The Grumbles is wonderfully original. It is proof that beyond the ability to get the basics sorted when recording it is really about capturing ideas and creativity and that is exactly what is going on here.

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