Tuesday, 29 October 2013

National Pastime - All Our Yesterdays

Album review by kev@thesoundofconfusion.co.uk


'All Our Yesterdays' is perhaps the perfect title for this new album from National Pastime, as their sound is distinctly and deliberately retro. They cite Sarah Records, C86, The Smiths, The Television Personalities and so on as inspiration for their music. When you think of indiepop there are often centres where there's always been a big focus on the genre. Glasgow, London and Manchester would all be notable for their past and present scenes, but search a little more and you find pockets all over the UK that are home to bands of a similar ilk who maybe aren't as celebrated due to little more than their location. Recently places such as Nottingham, Brighton, East Anglia and various parts of Wales have all delivered some great guitar-pop. The scene in the south-west is equally worth investigating, from exciting newcomers like Bridport's HUSH! and Torquay's Big Wave, to more established bands who've been quietly plying their trade for a while.

This quartet from Exeter (where it seems most men are called Andy) fit the latter description, with this album being their first since 2010's 'Bookmarks'. National Pastime's third long-player is also the 28th release on local independent label Pastime Records, a great find whose artists we've featured regularly: see also Falling TreesThe MorrisonsAndy B as well as the precursor to this album, the 'Don't Let It Get Away' EP, the title-track from which opens proceedings here. It's not just the music that recalls the cult heroes of indie fans everywhere; the simple, almost DIY production (how ungainly these songs would sound with the kind of styling that neighbours Muse and Coldplay use), the jangly guitars, nicely bobbing bass and wonderful clattering beats and so on, it's also the lyrics that occasionally seem to yearn for days gone by. You only need to head to second track, the lovely, swoonsome 'All Of My Life' ("will I ever stop dreaming about yesterday?") or its successor 'Long Lost Summer' which focuses solely on a love story that ended too soon, many years ago.

While the sounds, style and formats may all be recreations of past stars (in our eyes at least), these are new songs, so while you will hear the echo of long forgotten bands, this album isn't a copy and it relies on decent songwriting in much the same way that the current psych revival (Tame Impala, Pond, Temples etc.) does. Those bands recreate and re-imagine names from way back when and are celebrated for it, and so National Pastime should be celebrated for their take on their favourite artists. Especially as they may achieve more commercial success with a different sound, but becoming stars isn't the reason for this band's existence. 'My Star Has Fallen' adds some piano to give a little extra dimension and isn't the only track to do so, but it's the organs of the excellent 'When Not If', the constant hum of guitar on 'Real Deal' and the classic pop of 'Run With Me Now' and 'Leave Them In The Shade' that present a wonderful mid-album run of top tunes. The catch being that the run doesn't end; 'Running Scared' is a highlight and the reflective closer 'Judge A Book' sounds like an old 45 from three decades ago, just like it should. We don't know what the yesterdays of the members of National Pastime entailed, but we suspect that a great record collection accounts for at least part of them.







National Pastime's website

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