8 September 2017

Roddy Woomble - The Deluder

Roddy Woomble is the same age as me (well, about three months younger), something that I did not know until I was researching for this article.  It is the small details that get your attention sometimes, but sometimes it is one of those sorts of things that make you pay attention.  If you are reading this article, you will already be aware of Roddy Woomble's previous work.  But on the off chance that you are not, here is a very brief history lesson:  Mr Woomble first came to my attention in the band Idlewild, who started off as a snot nosed, shouty punk band.  Over the years, their sound changed to a melodic rock sound, something that a lot of people hated, but which brought them a whole new audience.  Apart from his work with Idlewild, he has also developed a successful solo career, which included an album being released as part of the renowned Bowers & Wilkins audio series.  It has lead to an impressive back catalogue, the latest album The Deluder being released on 31st August 2017.  If I am honest, I have not been keeping up with his solo career (or Idlewild) for a long time, not due to any specific reasons, there is only so many hours in the day and too much Zappa to be honest.  So, I have been long overdue catching up with Mr Woomble and why not listen to one of his solo works?  At the time of writing, Mr Woomble was in the middle of a UK tour, playing all over this septic isle and it looks like he will be busy for the rest of the year.  But what of the album?  How does it actually sound?

01 - Look Back by Leaving

The Deluder opens with the slow burning "Look Back by Leaving", the style of the song is not the type of sound I was expecting if the truth be told.  It is a piano led piece, one that is dramatic without being over the top.  It has a sound that is akin to Nick Cave and other artists of that ilk, people who
use more than a noisy guitar to get their point across.  It is a beautifully tragic song, one that will keep those lost souls company during the dark hours of the night, one that gains stature with each repeated listen.

02 - To Feel Like a Fool

"To Feel Like a Fool" is a minimalist follow up to "Look Back by Leaving", a bass heavy piece that is driven more by emotive reasons, one where the drums are absent and without leave.  It is incredibly atmospheric and it does have a certain charm, but it is another one which the listener has to take their time with as it is not going to reveal everything within a couple of listens.

03 - Jupiter

A song originally composed for one of his children, “Jupiter” puts me in mind of the American Alternative rock scene of Pavement, early R.E.M. (sorry, but their influence is on this one), Cake, which is added to a little bit of Jarvis Cocker that make this one a strange one. It has that tone where the guitars are tools to thrill the mind, a sound to create confusion and an indie sensibility that is sadly missing from a lot of the current scene these days.  It is keeping up the strange pacing of this album, one that has not kept to a single pace and it is a bizarre number.  I am not sure how I feel about this one, it is something of an enigma to me, but I am not disliking it.  It is just a little bit too bizarre to comprehend at this juncture.

04 - A Skull with a Teardrop

Once again, the pace changes and we are back in Bad Seeds territory on this one.  I love the way one progresses, it is not what I was expecting.  It sounds like a film noir piece, a mysterious song that is so stylish that you need a sharp suit just to listen to it.  It is the first piece on the album I understood straight away, the first to let me in and it is one of my favourite songs on this album. 

05 - Like Caruso

Roddy Woomble the artist is someone I can truly get behind when he is make music of this quality, “Like Caruso” is one of the best songs I have heard in 2017 and that is against some stiff competition as well.  It is an old school number, with passion at its core and a beautiful set of lyrics to ignite the heart.  Musically, it is so minimalist and it also feels so full at the same time, it is a contradiction in that way and I love it.  I think it is best if you check out this song yourself, it is a little gem on this album.

06 - First Love Is Never Returned

With a Talking Heads Post Rock edge, “First Love Is Never Returned” is a song that laments how things that are offered are sometimes never reciprocated back and how feelings can be hurt due to the one-side nature of the relationship.  It is a decent number, one which ends stronger than it starts.  To be honest, it is the sort of track which I enjoy whilst it is on, but I am not in any great hurry to hear it again.  But it is not a bad song either, just one that sort of passes me by.

07 - Remember to Breath

Remember to Breath” is a minimalist piece, overburdened with strings and dramatic passages about loved ones and family.  It is a nice piece, very peaceful with a tranquil feeling, which is interrupted with a bass rumbling that is approaching Grinderman territory when it is finished.  It is a beautiful number, one which is very easy on the mind and soul.

08 - I'll Meet You by The Memorial

I’ll Meet You by The Memorial” is probably the only song on here which does not work for me, but it feels like it should be something that I would be into.  It is a mid-paced indie/post rock number with a gentle soul, it has some nice pieces in the record and it has all the required elements that should make a good song.  But there is something here that does not quite work for me, it just sort of lingers in the air and then departs without making much impression, which is a bit of a shame.

09 - On N'a Plus De Temps

This gentle ballad is a one of the shining lights of the latter part of this album, a dual language song that drift like a bird floating on the breeze and it is a subtle number that is wins over your heart each time!  I love the subtle noises at the edge of your hearing on this one, the vocals between Mr Woomble and Hannah Fisher merge together with ease and the final result is fascinating.

10 - Any Old Kind of World Will Do

The penultimate song of the album is called “Any Old Kind of World Will Do”, one which has a dower manner and has an old school country feeling to the music.  It feels like an old gun-slinger is bemoaning his lot and the world is ready for the thunder to be unleashed.  It never truly explodes, but it rumbles along with a menacing edge to the music, which is minimal over the best part of the song.  It builds up towards the end of the song, ending on a loud note (at least in comparison to the rest of the album).

11 - Floating on a River

Starting with an A Capella verse, Mr Woomble is focused on the water, how it moves and comparing it to the world around him.  It is sung in a lower register that he seems comfortable with, making it sound as if he is singing a lullaby late in the night.  In keeping with the album, it is a gentle number that will not grab you immediately, but it does hold a charm that will eventually win you over.

Overall, The Deluder is a slow burner, an album that is in no rush to reveal everything about itself and in less of a hurry to get to its eventual point.  You cannot think of this in terms of anything other than the work of great solo artists such as Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Jarvis Cocker and even early Elton John.  He has made an album that is not a conventual indie album, it is an old school album that is meant to be absorbed, reflected upon and then re-consumed as it will change upon each repeated spin of the record.  When I first listened to this album, I was not a fan of it to be honest.  I felt it was too slow and I was expecting something with a little more fizz.  However, I had a hunch there was something else to this record, something that was to be unearthed, thankfully I was right.  Roddy Woomble has created an artistic statement on this record, it feels like it is a record that will find its audience later as it is not an immediate album, it is like a lover who wants to seduce you slowly.  If there is an issue overall after repeated listens, it is the pacing of the record is a little off in places and a few moments of pretentious style, but these is a minor things overall and what artists do not have that side to their work?  The Deluder is an album that will take a bit of time to settle, but it is truly worth the effort.

7 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out

Top track - Like Caruso

You can purchase The Deluder on Amazon here.

You can visit the Roddy Woomble website here.

You can follow the activities of Roddy Woomble on Facebook here.

You can stream The Deluder on Spotify here.

You can stream The Deluder on Deezer here.

You can stream The Deluder on Tidal here.

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