I've been meaning to review this band ever since their debut release Bleak Strategies in 2014 but I never seemed to get around to it. I only ever reviewed one of Jackdaw4's albums (the final one ,Dissecticide, HERE) too so I'm a little remiss as a fan. I'm hoping to finally rectify that with this review; it's the second The Dowling Poole album and was again released via the PledgeMusic crowd funding site. It was released back in March so I'm being pretty tardy!
The band is a collaboration between Willie Dowling, (Jackdaw4 (mentioned above), Honeycrack, The Grip, The Wildhearts, The Sugar Plum Fairies, The Celebrity Squares, Cat People blah blah blah) and Random Jon Poole (Cardiacs, The Wildhearts, The Ginger Wildheart Band, Silver Ginger 5, The God Damn Whores, Lifesigns, The Lotus Eaters and more). Both are multi-instrumentalists and vocalists and handle all the relevant duties. One Hyde Park also sees the increased involvement of Givvi Flynn who contributed a few vocals to their debut. She now seems to be an unofficial third member of the band.
The opening track was also the first single from One Hyde Park, it's called Rebecca Receiving. It's the perfect introduction to the band. Reminiscent of ELO's chirpy Progressive Pop. It's a bouncy, catchy Guitar Pop song but with an air of peculiarity to it. Willie sings a tale of a women who gets what she wants without a thought to other peoples feelings. It's a fantastic song and a great opener. It's followed by an equally strong song, Fight, Fight, Fight. This one sees Jon Poole taking over lead vocals and is another bouncy, energetic pop song, this time full of cheery ba ba ba ba's. It's about standing up for yourself and making the best of a shitty world.
When She Knows, She Knows is a little slower but still very headnod worthy and boasts an infuriatingly catchy chorus. Next up is Vox Pops which is the way the 'man on the street' regurgitates soundbites and opinions they don't have facts to back up, particularly with the recent immigration crisis. They read it on facebook so it must be true. it's summed up by the lyrical couplet:
Thinking on their thoughtless feet, underlined by endless tweets.
The easily misled repeat the bile they consume
The next song is probably my favourite. It's the very blasphemous Adam & Eve (A Secular Hymn). It's about doubting the likelyhood of religion as it's impossible to prove. There's something to offend most faiths here! Nevertheless
, it's a happy, bouncy song that's had me singing "BAUM!" to myself for months now. It's also off-kilter and discordant. The verses flow along briskly and are hard to follow let alone sing along to but it's fun to try!
Willing To Change is much slower and has kind of a 50's Doo-Wop feel. Lyrically it's about how life and society drives us to want similar things and be part of the system rather than the unique individuals we could be. Hope And Glory is similar in theme and is an upbeat Indie Rock song featuring Random Jon on lead vocals again. There's some really nice harmonies in this one too.
|Willie Dowling, Givvi Flynn & Random Jon Poole|
Bring Back The Glow is the first real ballad on One Hyde park, it's a gentle, dreamlike piece of feel good psychedelia that's all about getting yourself out of a funk and cheering up. American Teeth (English Pride) sounds like one of them weird songs from Sesame Street that they had in the animation bits. It has a massive, singalong chorus too though and it's a nice juxtaposition
The Garden is perhaps the oddest song on One Hyde Park, there are several time changes and odd melodies with both Willie and Jon taking lead. It's a song about depression and the fighting of so the schizophrenic music kind of fits. Whatever is about not letting bad things get to you and shrugging them off. It's a catchy little Indie Rock song with yet more impressive harmonies throughout.
The final track is the title track and it's name comes from the opulent retail and housing building in London, One Hyde Park The cheapest apartment in around £3.5 million and has just the one bedroom. The most expensive is a penthouse suite that will cost you over £135 million. It also appears that the majority of the apartments are bought by companies utilising tax havens and don't pay council tax. Mind, for such a luxurious and exclusive building, it isn't half ugly.
The song itself is a fitting closer, it's grand, epic and ebbs and flows along. The harmonies are effective and the chorus memorable and emotive. It's about the building burning down and perhaps not being too sad about that.
One Hyde Park is a fantastic album, both Jon and Willie are fine songwriters, Willie in particular has long been one of my favourite lyricists. There's not one bad song to be found, though I would say the first half is superior to the second. My only real complaint is with the cover and the band logo. If I saw that with no prior knowledge of the band I'd think it was gonna sound like Linkin Park or something. After the simple but effective cover of their last album, Bleak Strategies it's a bif of a disappointment. As I say though, a small niggle.
9 out of 10 - Almost Perfect. Almost.
Best Track: Adam & Eve (A Secular Hymn)
Visit the bands website (You can purchase CD's here too) HERE
Visit their BandCamp page HERE
Listen to One Hyde Park on Spotify HERE