Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Album Review :: Toothless - The Pace Of The Passing



The Pace Of The Passing

January 27 2017 (Island Records) 


Words: Richard O’Hagan

Bass players aren’t supposed to be interesting. Occasionally there will be one who will buck that trend – hi, Hooky – but for the most part they’re supposed to stand towards the back with a Wyman-esque lack of motion and try not to make a nuisance of themselves.

Bombay Bicycle Club bassist Ed Nash is definitely bucking that trend, though. His debut release under his Toothless alter ego is already destined to be one of the quirkier releases of 2017. Part acoustic, part electronic, part throbbing basslines (natch), ‘The Pace of the Passing’ twists and turns like the Thames itself over the course of three-quarters of an hour of wilful eclecticism.

Opening track ‘Charon’ is deceptively laid back, a quick semi-acoustic taster before Nash bounces into the golden and shimmering current single ‘Sisyphus’. Nash’s own voice is passable, but not great, so he wisely allows others to take some of the load. Marika Hackman steps up for ‘Palm’s Backside’, whilst regular BBC collaborator Liz Lawrence takes a turn on standout track ‘Party For Two’, a delirious mish-mash where Nash appears to be throwing ideas at a tape as fast as he can and seeing what sticks.

As with any debut, there are one or two misfires. A cameo from Wild Beasts’ Tom Fleming can’t rescue ‘The Midas Touch’, whilst the ideas behind ‘The Sun’s Midlife Crisis’ are good, but Nash can’t quite make them sound interesting. Still, this is without doubt a very creditable effort. With BBC having been on hiatus since the end of 2015, it is clear that Nash intends Toothless to be a long term alternative. He sings on ‘Charon’ that “Those formative years are so hard to get through”, but with this album he’s certainly made a decent start at doing so.

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