How refreshing to encounter, in the age of algorithmically engineered instant Spotified gratification and an unstemmable torrent of albums that barely demand a single play, a proper old-fashioned grower, intriguing enough to stick with after the first spin, and increasingly rewarding with each subsequent one. The fact that William Doyle’s first commercially available album under his own name (and his third including those as East India Youth) is only a shade over half an hour certainly helps its moreishness, but even more so is the abiding spirit of upbeat stoicism, the knottily nuanced symphonic arrangement and the knack for nagging melody that peppers the entire record.
It’s also rather pleasingly unpigeonholeable, too: opener ‘Millersdale’ starts with flourishes of static and reverberating arpeggios that hint at something potentially sterile before exploding halfway into ecstatic squawking sax and thrumming percussion; equally, ‘Nobody Else will Tell You’ gently hints at electronica without ever turning Full Bleep, and both ‘Zionshill’ and ‘Full Catastrophe Living’ develop bucolically folky textures – all field recordings and softly caressed acoustic instruments – before taking them into the studio and commencing deconstruction by mixing desk.
The opening of ‘Design Guide’, with its strange, abstracted spoken slogans (“distinctive and positive identity”; “an understandable layout”, etc.), feels slightly conceptually confused, but the pleasure in complexity and attendant euphoria is quickly restored with a gambolling guitar solo and Doyle’s layered one-man choir, and it’s far from fatal for a record that clearly revels in its own addictiveness, content that its idiosyncrasies will intrigue, not repel.
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