In an era that prides itself on its tolerance of diversity; the male solo artist has always been expected to fit into a very narrow banding that defines what a successful solo star should be. James Mabbett, the one-man multi-instrumentalist that is fond of using ancient organs and arcane tape machines, and goes by the name Napoleon IIIrd, does not have the look of a traditional pop star that has been endlessly pimped and preened for large scale exposure. Yet what he does possess is an unnerving talent for being able to form the type of fully functioning pop song that lingers abstractly over a machine-like readiness and positions him several light years away from Justin Bieber. And on more than one occasion here Mabbett is a true master of the type of outsider pop that’s created for bespectacled youths turned off by chart hits.

By Nathan Westley

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