Tuesday 28 January 2014

National Pastime - Judge A Book EP

EP review by soul1@thesoundofconfusion.com

When what we know as pop and rock music began, it was all about singles. Three-minute pop songs to play on the radio and buy on 7". Albums were really a means to sell more copies of the singles. You'd have the couple of songs you know and love, several covers and maybe a couple of poorer originals if you were lucky. When people talk about classic albums they rarely mention much before the 1960s (in pop and rock that is), for it was in that decade that bands evolved away from the throwaway nature of single songs to looking at a complete body of work. By the middle of the decade we were getting records like 'Pet Sounds', 'Revolver' and many others. In a strange way, this throws up another problem. With a general length of around 40 minutes or so, a whole album can be a bit much for casual listeners to take in. They're still likely to skip to the singles and miss out on plenty of other equally good music.

Last year Exeter indiepop band National Pastime released their latest album, 'All Our Yesterdays'. It was an enjoyable and nostalgic trip through the sound of indie music as it used to be. Anyone who missed out on the full-length might find this bite-sized sampler an easier route into some delightfully melodic and endearingly DIY guitar tunes. The four songs here represent a good cross-section of the album, from the opening, Housemartins-esque pop of 'Judge A Book' to the more upbeat yet reflective 'Long Lost Summer', there are hooks aplenty and melodies to spare. You could perhaps call 'All Of My Life' the most typical of the '80s indie sound that National Pastime favour; if you took it to the Antiques Roadshow the specialists would have a tough time dating it. Much like the album, this EP is about growing older, about looking back on the past through rose-tinted spectacles ("will I ever stop dreaming about yesterday?"), but it's not in a sad way, it feels more like a pause for thought. Fans of the indiepop genre will surely enjoy the album, so if this EP is the gateway then so be it. With the Belle & Sebastian piano of 'My Star Has Fallen' and the almost live, intimate vibe of the songs, it's really a bit of a hidden treasure.

National Pastime's website

Buy the EP

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