The word timeless is used far too much, and usually wrongly, as I am probably about to do. But listening to the new fab and groovy waxing from Senses Reeling it seems the perfect world to use to describe its core qualities. Not in any grand hyperbolic statement, but more because their music doesn’t seem to follow the lead of any era or genre of the modern musical age. It follows neither fad nor fashion, seems associated with no particular scene or journalist induced movement, doesn’t particularly tip its hat to past glories nor seeks to lead us into any pastures new. What Senses Reeling revel in is just good, solid, deft and clever songwriting. Okay it feels a lot more now than then, loosely wanders pop and rock byways and ironically wouldn’t feel out of place anywhere in the last 50 years either. What a wonderful contradiction! I guess when you don’t try to meet other people’s musical expectations, when you ignore genres, cease to worry about trying to be different, it is only then that you allow yourself the space to be truly original. I guess what I’m trying to say is why attempt to be big and clever when all you have to be is good. And they are good. Make that great. Bloody great, actually!
It was Someone Else that got me here, it’s always good to blame someone else, so let’s start there. Like all singles sent out as a calling card and mission statement for a forthcoming album, the track obviously stands on its own two feet, but if you expect this to be the high point of the album, you will be pleased to find out that it is actually just one of many and there are a host of other tracks that could easily have been entrusted with this task. This is no all eggs in one basket scenario. If they had opted to prick up the ears of those pop-pickers who like things a little more quirky, Press For Freedom with its busy, rolling rhythms could have easily been chosen and I suspect more than a few Talking Heads fans would have crawled out of the woodwork too.
Or Labels, which runs on a funky, soul groove but has something of a post-punk vibe to it, a subtle, supple and suitable blend of influences and inspirations for a song that seems to be talking about the black and white, the way we perceive and neatly label things and the reality that everything is actually a grey area, albeit one made of a myriad of colours, tones and hues. I think I may have broken that analogy but you know what I mean.
There are a few tracks that wouldn’t have been suitable for the pathfinders job though, such as Foreign or Poor. Not because there is anything wrong with the song, on the contrary it’s a bruised and brooding piece of grating social commentary, a brilliant political sideswipe but definitely a song that might confuse or confound your average Joe with their shallow vision and minuscule attention span. Some songs are destined to be album tracks, gems that people, having followed the sonic breadcrumbs back to the full album, are free to find and explore for themselves in their own time. Foreign or Poor is certainly one of them.
A Trick is a gracefully, lilting pop tune that The Lilac Time would have sold their cardigans for and Please Don’t Stand Out In The Rain is the most non-anthemic anthem you could imagine, one that neatly sums up what is so great about Senses Reeling. That is the fact that they can paint epic scenes and weave brilliantly resonant and memorable songs using only the most minimal of sonic strands.
So it’s a pop record, a rock record, an indie record…if that means anything anymore. But whilst hundreds of artists release music in those genres every day, no one is writing songs this succinct, this potent, this poignant. It’s always the quiet ones isn’t it?