Saturday 14 June 2014

Sam Page - The Slog In Uncertainty

Album review by KevW for

With last year's 'Breach' album, there was little hiding the fact that Sam Page took a great deal of influence from Bob Mould, and in particular his work with Sugar. For new LP 'The Slog In Uncertainty', it appeared as though we were going to see something of a repeat, albeit a very good one. Often, comparisons can become an unwanted weight around your neck, but when that comparison continues to be a genuine alt-rock hero and one of your biggest influences, it's probably not as bad as all that. Single 'Shine Your Little Light' was a fantastic mix of 'Copper Blue' and Teenage Fanclub that promised things would be continuing in a similar vein, as did its predecessor 'Release Me' which could have teleported itself in from 1993.

As opening track 'Naked' kicks in with drum raps and spidery guitar that gives way to a fuzzy, melodic chorus, we know that Page is still singing from the same hymn sheet... or do we? With three of the eight tracks on the album arriving as expected and sounding typically well-crafted, we suddenly get wrong-footed. 'I Don't Not Love You' grabs the dial marked “funk” and turns it up a couple of notches. It's tempting to think that alt-rock plus funk will result in some kind of sub-Red Hot Chili Peppers (actually, get rid of the word “sub” from that line, things can't really get much worse) dross, although Page does a decent job of navigating his way safely past such comparisons and ends up with a decent tune that adds a touch more colour to the album. It's not a one-off either, with 'Don't Want To Get You Down' taking a similar approach, again done with taste. It's closer to Beck covering Talking Heads with some baggy/grunge hybrid band providing the backing than socks-on-cocks, slap-bass musical torture, thankfully.

It is largely the spirit and sound that we've come to expect from Sam Page that dominates the record though, with 'Doubt' providing a liberal spread of buzzing guitars and a vibe that's straight from that same early '90s college-rock scene, and 'Two Kinds' bringing a grungier sound and throwing in some ringing guitar and cooing vocals. In signing off with the bracing 'I Try', the door is left wide open for Sam Page to continue his journey into the sounds that his name has come to be associated with. This is by no means a bad thing, because if you can add a dash of variety and keep the quality control set high, then good tunes will always strike a (slightly distorted) chord.

Stream or buy the album from Sam Page's website

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