Monday, May 13, 2013

Album Review :: Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs - Clarietta

Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs

Clarietta (Heavenly Recordings)

May 27 2013

In a slight change to the usual, for this review we asked two different writers to each give their appraisal. They say music is subjective and all a matter of personal taste, and here is a good example.

Review by Dave Beech

Rating: 5/10

Music these days is all about nostalgia, that doesn't stop newer releases from sounding fresh or exciting mind you, it just means that nothing can really be considered as ground-breaking any more. Even genre-defying, stomach churning sounds of stuff like dubstep has it's roots in genres that came well before it, no matter how much it's pushed as being completely original. As I said before though, this doesn't necessarily make contemporary music bad, far from it, it's just with so much musical history preceding them, how can new bands make anything that's never been done before? Charlie Boyer and The Voyeurs are one band plagued with such troubles. Their debut album 'Clarietta' is by no means a bad album. It's just there's nothing that really jumps out and grabs you. Sure there's the occasional song that will set itself apart from the others, but is that really enough in an industry as flippant as the music business?

In short the answer is no. Sure the quintessential guitar sound is present and ever indebted to the 1970s bands of NYC while off-kilter keys occasionally permeate the record's overt fuzz giving it that little bit more melody, but only just. Debut single 'Watch You' is the highlight of the record and comes across as the band Palma Violets wished they were. Frenetic keys move in between pounding drums and surging guitars all the while singer Charlie Boyer's voice shakes and warbles its way to the song's conclusion in a fantastic fashion. It's just a shame the rest of the record doesn't live up to this song's dizzying heights.

Tracks such as 'A Lion's Way' and the Bowie-esque 'Be A Complete Dream' are other saving graces that punctuate an album that is nothing short of beige, which is a shame as there are occasional moments of musical brilliance buried underneath formulaic layers of filler. With a bit of luck, the energy that's present on 'Clarietta' will transfer to their live sets, as there's certainly an abundance of it upheld by the band, it's just the music they make does nothing to grab your attention the way a record such as this should. There's absolutely no doubting the musical credibility of the band, but there's a distinct sense of deja vu that manifests itself throughout the eleven tracks featured. A good first effort from perhaps the next band to fall victim to the hyperbole of the music press, albeit one that certainly could have been built upon and refined before being released.

Review by Joseph Coward
Rating: 9/10

If anyone has earned his musical stripes over the past six years, it's Charlie Boyer. Slogging around the UK, Europe and Japan with his brilliant former group Electricity In Our Homes, Boyer has made a name for himself as one of the most prolific and talented songwriters East London has thrown up in a long while, and rightly so. It was with bated breath, then, that we anticipated the first outing of his new band, Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs. We weren't disappointed either, as their debut LP is exquisite.

Sexy, stomping, glamorous, wildly careening from the quiet to the very limits of the group's control, 'Clarietta' is a tour-de-force of an album. Given the band's affection for glam and the proto-punk of The Velvet Underground, it would be tempting, in the hands of a less capable producer, to attempt to make the record resemble the crackling, tinny sound of yesteryear but, under Edwyn Collins' supervision, 'Clarietta' thunders along like a juggernaut. Special notice should be paid to Sam Davies, a mere stripling at 19, whose shimmering guitar solos and well-aimed staccato stabs perfectly punctuate the blissfully melodic keys and tumultuous rhythm section that recall the very best of 1970s' guitar music from both sides of the pond: T-Rex, Patti Smith, Television et al.

In light of these references it is easy to dismiss 'Clarietta' as merely revivalist and derivative, as the former writer's rather poorly-lettered review demonstrates. However as a songwriter and a lyricist, among his indie label contemporaries, Boyer is peerless. It's clear to any listener not tone deaf that the album's arrangement is damn near perfect, proving that The Voyeurs are a group of young men who understand the value of the relationship between each instrument and care more about a coherent, cohesive piece of work rather than lamely attempting to make records for indie disco goers to dance to; not that the album fails on this score, though. On the contrary: the guitar shuffle and irresistible 4/4 pounding of 'You Haven't Got A Chance' have dragged even this two-left-footed writer out onto the dancefloor.

With arch witticisms and whimsical musings Boyer invites us into his often bizarre, sometimes sweet and always amusing literary world. Lines like “I'm a beautiful bear in the morning/I'm a beautiful bear in the Sun” from “' Lion's Way' often leave you wondering just what on earth he's going on about, but they are delivered with such panache in that distinctive tremulous voice that it hardly seems to matter.

We may be only halfway through the year, but I can say with some degree of certainty that 'Clarietta' is one of the best albums we're going to get in 2013, and that's putting it mildly.

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