Friday 14 September 2012

Sillyboy - Nature Of Things

Album review by KevW

Hearing how musical projects came into being can often be reasonably routine, with many forming as school or university friends, or chance meetings of musicians who get talking over a pint, or even TV talent contests. It's always a nice surprise when the backstory is a break from the norm. Greek producer Sillyboy takes his name from the David Bowie track 'Silly Boy Blue' and 'Nature Of Things' will be his second album in this format. It was in 2008 that Sillyboy began, releasing his debut alum two years later. Before that he had worked for over a decade supervising and making music for TV advertisement campaigns (Justin Hawkings started out doing a similar thing, but don't worry, the similarity ends there) whilst keeping a jealous eye on the Athens indie scene that was where his heart really lay. After a spell playing bass for 'The Expert Medicine' he chose to concentrate on his own work.

As an album, 'Nature Of Things' is competent and likeable as opposed to anything truly stunning, with, as the title suggests, nature being a running theme; song titles include 'Coast To Coast', 'Nature Of Things', 'The River' and 'Animal'. Other than perhaps the odd lyric inspired by his surroundings and life in Greece, this album sounds as though it could be the work of any number of British or North American indie-rock bands, with all the lyrics being in English and recorded in the traditional rock band format. The odd shimmer of synth on tracks such as 'All The Records' is as exotic as we get, this is also one of the album's better tracks. There's nothing here that's particularly disappointing; each song is written and recorded to a decent standard, although you could argue that the lyrics get buried at the back of the mix a little too often, and that means the basic instrumental tracks often take centre stage.

It's here where the problem lies: the instrumental tracks are fine, they'd make a good backing for some strong vocals or memorable hooks, and it's these that are missing. Sillyboy needs to assert himself more on these songs and push them forward, give them some guts. Currently they're competently standing there awaiting orders to be deployed into action. There's the odd low point; the 80s slow-jam of the title-track could be a George Michael B-side, but it's followed by 'Get Your Numbers', a much more punchy and engaging tune, yet those vocals feel somewhat buried during the verse and could do with more clout. 'Over My Name' is dreamier and suits Sillyboy's production better, but overall 'Nature Of Things' is like taking a penalty kick and hitting the post. Just a few tweaks and his could be transformed from an OK album to a very good one, and maybe the only thing holding Sillyboy back is himself.

Sillyboy's website

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