Having a CV that includes playing guitar for (among others) Morrissey, Iggy Pop and David Bowie, you would be excused for writing an album that heavily featured guitar while firmly putting other instruments in the back seat but it’s pretty clear that Kevin Armstrong understands the role of the guitar within the structure of a song.
What we have is a collection of songs that include some that acted as the Genesis for other artists to evolve and use (‘Oh Phony’ was recorded by Morrissey, ‘Run’ by Tin Machine and ‘Outside’ was the title track for David Bowie and Brian Eno’s 1995 album of the same name) and each song holds its own individuality yet still remains connected, no easy feat when you consider the career Armstrong continues to have.
What does jump out is the deft touches, there is very little in the way of wild effects – if you’re expecting heavy distortion and solos, look elsewhere – when the solos do come around they are well written and well placed for the individual song, showing that there is an eye on the overall production rather than the guitar man aching over a four minute showcase while the listener drifts off.
Any album that has a song titled ‘Dog Ate My Giro’ will always get some attention from me and this left-field approach to music probably helps you to understand why he’s an in-demand musician, he looks at things differently and, as a result, comes up with something different each time. The guitar has always been a versatile instrument, it has an ability to find itself in all manners of genres and styles and some of these styles are covered here, from the pop sound of ‘Run’, the reflective, stripped back feel of ‘Where Does The Time Go?’, through effected ‘Leucocytes of Love’ and the morose ‘Clean’ there is something for fans of the guitar and fans of well-structured music.
‘Outside’ will hold the attention of most, even without the dripping synth work of Brian Eno, this song, with it’s impressive intro and clever production, will be something you’ll return to.