Thursday 27 February 2014

Andy B - Those Were The Days/Cured EP

Album and EP reviews by

I think it's safe to say you know what you're getting when you buy an Andy B album, and this is no bad thing. 'Those Were The Days' is his forth full-length, and in terms of quality it's immaculately consistent; there are no ups and downs. The music is, and unless there's any kind of epiphany will probably remain, very much in the same style as the previous releases, but this too is no bad thing. Fans will know by now that Andy B isn't on a mission to change the world or to build his own recording studio in the grounds of his platinum disc-lined mansion. Andy B is an indie artist whose music goes back to when "indie" actually meant something. He even goes as far as to cite C86, Sarah Records and a host of traditional guitar-pop bands as his influences.

Previous single tracks 'Let Me Out Soon' and 'I Can See Through You' both feature, and those two songs alone give a good snapshot of what this record is all about. It's almost ironic that the opening track is called 'Something New' when it sounds like it could be up to thirty years old, and this is by design. This might be a consistent album, yet this song does seem to shine a little brighter. The same could probably be said of 'Worth The Wait' which bears all the hallmarks that makes Andy's records such an enjoyable listen. What's interesting though, is that there is no lead guitar, backing vocals keyboards or overdubs on the whole record. Reading what Andy has to say about the it indicates that he was aiming for something new, but with an easily recognisable voice and songwriting style you probably wouldn't realise these facts unless you were told.

We've singled out the bass on previous records, and again it proves to be a plus point. There's no lead-bass or anything overly technical, but those simple, bobbing and melodic lines on songs like 'The Best You Can Do' and the chiming, contrasting (it's uptempo but oddly downbeat) 'Walking The Tightrope' are a joy and do bring some individuality along with them. Those lovelorn lyrics that have been found on past releases are still here. "It's time you tried to find someone new, you'll forget me in a week or two" is the parting gesture offered on 'No One Said This Would be Easy'. 'Exit Stage Right' comes to terms with a failed relationship too, offering a way out: "this is the final curtain, exit on stage right"; and 'Cursed' is sadder, more reflective ("it's just been harder than we guessed"). Again it's filled with bobbing bass and jangly guitars though, offsetting the pain. For classic, vintage indiepop the set the controls for 'Difficult Girl' and the summery 'Accessory'. The final bow is taken by the title-track; another look back at the past and the conclusion of another fine set of songs by someone who rarely offers anything but.

As a companion piece to the album, Andy B has released the EP 'Cursed' which features different mixes of four album tracks which have been done by June Brides drummer Andy Fonda - the man who was responsible for the full-length. This reimagining of a few songs is not just a bite-sized introduction to those new to Andy B's work, they also offer a fresher, more vibrant take. In fact I'd even go as far as to say that the extra touches, especially to 'Cursed' and 'Something New' mean the songs benefit from this different approach, the organ on the latter being a particularly nice touch. 'I Can See Through You' also has some electronic keys applied that give a new take, although perhaps the album version just about tops it on this occasion, and it's also a close call with 'Worth The Wait', both are great recordings, and separating them is a challenge. So for any newcomers out there, you can either jump in at the deep end and go for the album, or wean yourself into this world with the EP. Both yield fine results.

Andy B's website

Buy the album

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