Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Narcissus Road - The Hours

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I'm notoriously lax for spotting "the next big thing" unless the "next big thing" happens to be an attractive lady singing pop tunes. The Hours are no exception to that. A little research says that they've been knocking around for a couple of years, have been bigged up by the likes of Jarvis Cocker and have Damien Hurst working on designs for them. Still, until very recently they were not a name that crossed my radar. Which on the basis of a lot of this debut album is a great shame.

For the first 20 minutes or so this album is an absolute delight. That includes the delightful singles Ali In The Jungle and Back When You Were Good. They are, quite simply, two of the best singles of recent memory. If you've heard them then you'll know what I'm on about; if you haven't heard them stop reading this right now and go find them on the Internet somewhere. You can't go wrong.

In the early going these are backed up by Love You More, with its somewhat funny lines like "I love you more than my record collection, I love you more than my football team", and the title track Narcissus Road, which, to me anyway, brings to mind the aforementioned Mr Cocker.

The problem is that after that there are a few songs that let the side down somewhat. Icarus is a piano-drive tune which sounds too much like a dull Keane song to be able to recommend it. I Miss You and Dive In are also pretty dull, and aren't really the sort of songs that make me want to listen to them again.

But the highlights aren't confined to the opening. In fact I Need To Know might be my favourite on the entire album; it's catchy, angry and vital and shows The Hours at their best.

So all in all its a damn fine debut, albeit with a few points that do drag it down slightly. It may make me sound like a prude but there is a little too much swearing peppered throughout the album for my liking and like everything over-exposure lessens the impact. This lack of subtlety also encroaches into the music as well. Everything INCLUDING the kitchen sink seems to have been thrown at this and at times the overall impact is indeed lost. Still, when they get it right, they nail it. And there's enough examples of that on here to make it well worth a listen.

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