Look. Let’s be honest. It was always fairly unlikely that I WASN’T going to like this album. I own a fair proportion of the back catalogues of Messrs Willie Dowling and Random Jon Poole, and have *I think* pledged on everything they’ve both been involved in to date in this new-fangled pledging for albums system that appears to have taken over just going to the shops and buying a CD. And so it was that I duly pledged – with a fair deal of confidence – that I would like the output from the new collaboration that is The Dowling Poole. The first inkling of quite how MUCH I would like their album came when they released a track off the album to tease us just a little bit, Hey Stranger. The first day I downloaded it I listened to it approximately 30 times. 24 of them in a row. The problem was, you see, that once I’d heard it, I felt that no other track would quite live up to it’s magnificence. So what would be the point of listening to any other track? Once I was over this slight insanity (well I say I’m over it – I think I listen to it about 3 times a day on average even now) I figured “hey, the other songs on the album can’t be as good as that. They must have just released the one I’m going to like the most. Which is ok as I’m sure I’ll still like the rest of it”.
And then we waited a bit…they teased us a bit more with snippets at the end of video clips as part of their Pledge Campaign… and we waited a bit more…and then they released the album while I was on holiday. B**tards! So with no internet connection while I was away, and a hideously full diary when I returned I had to wait nearly a whole extra week to listen to the album in it’s full glory. To say it was worth the wait would be like saying that it gets a bit warm in the Miami sunshine. Think of a band you like. Then think of another band that you like. Then think of all the bands that you like, mix them in a harmonious pot of lyrical cleverness and then pour them into an album. And even then I’m not sure that quite does it justice. There are (semi-)obvious musical comparisons that you might make with bands such as Jellyfish, Queen, Cheap Trick and dare I say it The Beatles but that would be to ignore so much else of what goes on in the album. You could pretty much name any band from Abba to Cream to Zappa and every imaginable band in-between and find elements of this album that remind you of the best bits of all of them.
BUT…the album is not an “easy listen”. That’s not meant as an insult – rather, to say that it’s not ten songs of straight pop-rock tunes – we can all do those, and these guys can both do those until the cows come home…but it’s ten unique songs of indescribably catchy, clever and unexpected musical turns. The reason I couldn’t stop listening to “Hey Stranger” is that it’s so packed full of layers that every time I listened to it I heard something new in it – and then I wanted to hear that again – and then on the next listen I heard something else. But every single song is like that. The opening track, “The Sun is Mine” made the walk to work on the rainiest of Leeds mornings feel like a stroll through a sun-filled utopia this morning. “Hey Stranger” sounds even more amazing in the context of the album, perfectly placed between “A Kiss on the Ocean” with it’s Madness-esque guaranteed to make you sing-along chorus and the actually-I-think-I’m-running-out-of-words-to-describe-how-good-these-songs-are “Saving it all for a Saturday”.
I suspect for people who love this album (and quite frankly I’d stare at you and wonder “how could you not?” if you didn’t), their favourite track will be whichever one they are currently listening to. But I couldn’t personally forgive myself if I didn’t mention the genius that is “Where the Memories Fester” which takes my breath away every time I hear it. And ‘Twilight Subplot”. Bloody hell, have I mentioned them all yet? They are all amazing, unique, wonderful. Even Clean, which has a video which I hated so much that I couldn’t watch surprised me when I heard it on the album. (Seriously, if you want to hear it, click on the video and then shut your eyes. You’ll her the track so much better that way. Unless you like that sort of thing…) Joined by the ever-brilliant Givvi Flynn the track is a perfect album-closer. Which is fine of course, but when you get to the end of it you say “shit, just one more listen…”
The only question remaining then, being, what precisely a “Bleak Strategy” is, and if this album is one of them, could we please have some more?
If you haven’t already pledged on this album, there is still time. Get on it now! Click this link right here and give these good people some money. In return they will give you ten of the finest tracks that money can buy.