Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Album Review : Notes And Rhymes - The Proclaimers****

For Fans Of : Simon & Garfunkel, Deacon Blue, The Decemberists, Johnny Cash

Sadly to some, this excellent Scottish folk/rock/pop act will be forever tagged as a novelty act due to the popularity of one song, I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) became the song that shot them to fame and has since been used for film scores and charity comedy singles.

On their own terms though, Charlie and Craig Reid have continued to produce albums filled with great songs and big themes, love, loss, war and the existence of God are the sort of things that drive the twins to express themselves. The Proclaimers previous album, Life With You, is well worth getting hold of, or failing that, just download the song Here It Comes Again for it's considered and mature response to the misogynistic rap music that often blocks up the charts.

Notes And Rhymes isn't quite as strong as its predecessor, but there are still some aural gems here for the taking. The album gets off to a strong start with the eponymous opening track kicking in like a 50's rock and roll number with jangling guitars and then the twins trademark vocal harmonies carrying this bouncy number along. Love Can Move Mountains is a real high point, beautiful vocals on a soaring balled and the country styled It Was So Easy To Find An Unhappy Woman is both witty and poignant as well as being a good song.

The Proclaimers like to tackle serious issues as well, on I Know they cleverly use the same verse twice to express admiration for a soldier and then fear of a terrorist and then go on to express the futility of hoping for the end of war, it's a big topic well handled, but musically not the strongest song on the album. The attack on modern mores and values and the power of big business in Free Market is a strong number, a caustic evaluation of what the banks (and others) have done for us recently.

Overall the album is pretty good, the twins have distinctive voices and (thankfully) have never tried to sing in a foreign accent, their brand of modern folk rock is good listening and they don't shy away from difficult subjects, and often describe these topics with an admirable lack of triteness, not a truly great album, but still a rather good one.

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