The Kindest of Thieves
Ever The Optimist
Release Date : Unknown
What once was “Para Zali” and a ‘blues soaked’ dirty sexy sound is now “The Kindest of Thieves” and a ‘pop soaked’ entirely different confection.
What hasn’t changed is Chris Fox’s mellow vocal sound and the lyrics which get a strong “well above average” score from this listener. He also writes a damn good tune.
Whilst I might hanker after the more dangerous sound of the previous incarnation of the band there is charming, and perhaps more appropriate, English sound to this set of songs.
And trying to listen to the band as they are now instead of what they were is the key aim in reviewing it is it not?
So i’m immediately drawn to the airy chords of “Amelia” which reminds me of an amalgam of The Smiths and Orange Juice. There are also echoes of 10,000 Maniacs in structure and I can quite imagine Natalie Merchant having a go at it. A perfect pop song.
The descending bass riff of “Go to Town on Me” will be recognisable to all, and to some degree the blues past of Fox and Co emerges somewhat in this sultry little number which is packed with American musical references but also has Brechtian echoes both lyrically and in the vocal delivery. The key change at the end is perhaps a bit too obvious but generally this is another excellent piece of pop writing.
“Bones” recalls the 10,000 Maniacs reference with its African style guitar-ing which morphs into a para-skanking piece of bubbling rhythm – indeed the band manage to effortlessly mix English indie pop sensibility (think Mozza but with more oomph) with a rich cocktail of other styles.
The ska motif returns with the closing “Personal Best” which manages to sound a little country and western in parts with it’s toe-tapping rhythm and rising riff and jangly chords – I get the feeling this will be stand-out track for you after you have listened to it a few times. I happen to think it is the best piece amongst a collection of four very good tunes.
If I am drawing a current comparison I would point to the work that Mike Chadwick is doing with “Limbs” at the moment – english pop sensibility with transatlantic references but overall in lyrical content and delivery a particularly British pop sound (not in the Brit-Pop sense) more Robyn Hitchcock than Ray Davies let’s say.
Not sure when this is out, or indeed what lable it is on, but I would recommend you track it down when it does come out as its rather fine indeed.
More info and some nice video bits will give you a sense of the EP here .
Pending that release here is an acoustic set from the band with two other songs……you’ll get a sense of what I am on about from these….