Whilst it is obvious where Sebastian Straw’s heart lies musically, somewhere between Manchester and Sheffield at any time from ’93 to the mid naughties, there is also something more interesting at play than your average Brit Pop sound of that day. And if Brit-Pop is a term which conjures images of laddish anthems to cut-price hedonism and affected swagger, then fear not, as there is certainly something a lot more meaningful going on lyrically here.
Happy People Shine, for example, takes many of the genres musical tropes – skittering drum fills, over-extended vooooowels, orchestral sweeps and some fairly familiar chord progressions – but it is the social commentary that wins through, proving that he has something to say worth listening to. Maybe Together flies a little too close to the early Oasis template for my liking but Already Late is a brooding and reflective slice of loveliness.
And I think it is when Straw wanders further out into less comparable waters that he really comes into his own and this tends to happen best on the more mellow moments. Will You Regret chimes and shimmers wonderfully, My Friend is a brilliantly dynamic groover and Beautiful Place heads down some perhaps non unexpected psychedelic pathways.
Sitting somewhere between a tribute to a past sound and the natural evolution of indie music , overall it’s a great album, certainly one worth of your time. If you remember Brit-Pop you will love the nostalgia, if you don’t it’s a cool modern clash of underground and accessible music. I just think that Sebastian Straw needs to be careful just how close he sails to certain sonic winds, if he does that he will be fine.