Crooning is a lost art that seemingly died out in the late 70s, by which time it was struggling to breathe stale breaths and inject the genre with any kind of enthusiasm. So, for his Paw Tracks debut Dent May should be considered somewhat a revivalist and a purveyor of music that is opinion dividing to say the least.
With this kind of title, and knowing his label mates’ creative boons, there is always a chance you could have unearthed a real gem. Things are seemingly heading in this direction as Dent’s nasal tones shrink wrap ‘Welcome’, a pleasant, luau building, surf pop that introduces what will haunt the remaining eleven tracks.
At times the minimal plastic chimes of the ukulele are endearing and meet your ears halfway with comic styling in ‘You Can’t Force A Dance Party’ which sways its college boy sentiment like Ben Folds if he hammered the four strings rather than the ivories. Yet the kitsch in-joking spills over the bounds of taste during ‘At The Academic Conference’ which drips like the love songs of the ‘American Graffiti’ soundtrack. From the gentle “oooh”ings to its mindless email stalking lyrics, this is just one step too far, unless you like to take your surf pop with a vat of salt.
The alarm beeps at the onslaught of ‘Meet Me In The Garden’ had professed May and his Ukulele to be a bird of paradise musically – colourful, attention seeking and quite used to the exotic climbs. However, by the time we hit ‘I’m An Alcoholic’ it seems all he really wants to do is a Beach Boys and ditch the merriment; this is despite the consistent chiming backing vocals and swooning pedal steel.
‘The Good Feeling Music…’ is a difficult beast to dismiss. On the one hand the sun-kissed chugging rhythms, and latterly the horns, provide a sentient retreat from doom-gloom credit-crunch art pop. Not forgetting though, that every bone in your body is screaming to throw piss on his parade. Call it the British miserabalia, but even in the peaks of this album, whether they be regaling a former tennis ace (for ‘God Loves You, Michael Chang’) or urging the stoner to get his arse in gear (‘College Town Boy’) there is a nagging disbelief that won’t be suspended.
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