Monday, 20 August 2012

Saint Motel - Voyeur

Album review by KevW


They're a good band are Californians Saint Motel. They're also a bloody great band. When talking about David Bowie's appearance in his TV show Extras, Ricky Gervais recalled asking the Thin White Duke to write a song for the show that was something a bit like 'Life On Mars'. To which Bowie sarcastically replied "Oh OK, I'll just write another one of those shall I?" Of course if it were that simple then every one of his songs would be of that calibre. Duh! 'Voyeur' brings that story to mind because it's a very good indie-rock album on the whole, yet some of the tracks are amazingly good. There could have been no trouble picking the singles from this one, and if they could come up with a dozen like that they'd be sitting on a potential album of the year.

On the whole this album is solid, there are no real lulls, but the peaks stick out like Lionel Messi at a kids five-a-side contest. 'Feed Me Now' is a nice opener, letting us know that this is a cut above the typical alternative rock fare with its lush arrangements and exotic twirls; it's not another mundane group of blokes with guitars. Then they jump into the superb 'Benny Goodman', a song about the legendary bandleader, complete with crowd samples, clarinets and horns. It's undeniably brilliant and excitingly individual; a melody-fuelled realisation of how music can be impressive, fun and catchy. They follow it well with the decent, if a touch more routine 'Puzzle Pieces' and 'Daydream/Wetdream/Nightmare' does little more than keep things ticking over steadily and eclectically.

At this point they choose to drop in the magnificent '1997', a classic in waiting with so many hooks it makes Velcro look like cling film. It's a true highlight, packed with sentimentality, and overwhelmingly buoyant and just about impossible for them to top. The powerpop of 'Honest Feedback' does a commendable job of following the star of the show, but unless they come up with a 'Life On Mars' just about anything will feel like a step back. Bouncy indie/pop makes up the remainder of the record, and does so with aplomb, confidence and style. This is all above average but surging 'Hands Up Robert' and 'Stories' are mere reminders that they're capable of even better. Knocking an album because every track isn't world class is just plain foolish. 'Voyeur' is highly accomplished, bouncy and memorable indie/pop/rock. When it hits those heights it really is something else though.







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