Psapp – The Camel’s Back

Too saccharine and unperturbed to have any real effect.

You’re never to old to play with toys and you’re never too old to make music with them either. PSAPP should know, for four albums now they’ve been mining the gold mine known as ‘Where folk and Christmas Day meet’. It may be original, but it sounds as if the band is struggling to put a finger where charming ends and irritating begins.

But it’s not due just to the overuse of toys that probably didn’t sell to actual kids, but the simple folk that would have very little new to offer on some tracks. ‘Part Like Waves’ is a prime example of how they’re more than comfortable to regurgitate past ideas with little more than a rattle or there. It doesn’t make it bad, but it doesn’t make it vaguely exciting either, it’s just four minutes of bog-standard folk.

It’s made even more numbing by the fact that when the band par down the grating toys, there are moving, if downbeat, moments to be savoured. ‘The Camel’s Back’ may have the Fischer-Price piano going on, but it’s simple melody set against the relaxed vibe of Galia Durant’s vocals prove that PSAPP have moments where they can create something out of nothing. Yet, there’s the flipside to these moments, where they create nothing out of stellar ingredients, like ‘I Want That’, begins with a pretty funky beat and the jibe of ‘I know I want that’, but it’s reliance on rattling anything they can get their hands on is most apparent here.

Fortunately, it’s not the only moment on the album where this happens. ‘The Monster Song’, an actual proper song instead of the stopgap that ‘The Camel’s Back’ turns out to be, builds upon a simple guitar and is fleshed out immensely by the ire of Galia Durant. Plus, there’s a (extremely) brief moment of urgency with ‘Mister Ant’ and one of the songs where that pesky toy trick actually pays off. Yet, at times, there seems to be a lack of ideas on the album, with ‘Homicide’ definitely winning the award for most filler like track of the year, neither extended intro or brief jam, it’s 53 seconds of ho and hum that approximately two people will have appreciate, let alone enjoy.

Yet, these moments are few and far between, as when the songs aren’t just instrumentals, they’re too close to each other, in terms of sound, to offer anything interesting. All, barring ‘Mister Ant’, have the same relaxed lounge music vibe, slowly inching to the next one and only the vocals save specific tracks from total nothingness, so when you do happen across tracks like ‘Marshrat’, pretty much Pink Floyd’s ‘Money’ without the socio-political message, the finger shoots for the skip button faster than a cheetah on crack.

It’s ironic that the TV show they once provided the theme tune for, Grey’s Anatomy, bears a striking resemblance to this album in a way. Both are pleasant enough distractions, turning on the excitement every now and again and could drown you with the amount of treacly sugar that is poured over everything. It’s not that the album is bad; it’s just so bland musically is some areas, something that was never the case with their old material, with its gimmick being one of the things that drag the album down. Although the pipes of Galia Durant help make the most of some songs and stop it from being too shallow, the overall vibe is still too saccharine and unperturbed, especially compared to their old, more sinister selves, to have any real effect.

Tags: Psapp, Reviews, Album Reviews

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