Despite being one of Australia’s biggest music stars, singer-songwriter Alex Lloyd is still virtually an unknown in this part of the world. It’s been our loss too, as anyone who has heard either of the London-born singer’s first two albums will testify.
His third full-length release, Distant Light, is arguably his best yet with nearly 50 minutes crammed full of great tunes. It’s not an album that is going to change your world or leave you searching for hidden meanings, just one filled with what Lloyd does best – very basic pop/rock songs.
To use the word “basic” is not meant as a slight on the stocky Peter Andre look-a-like, it’s just the best description of his music. Every song on the album is a very radio-friendly four and a half minutes or less, while each adopts the tried and trusted method of verse and chorus. You could say Alex Lloyd is like a pot of Ronseal – he does exactly what it says on the tin – and very well too.
A bit like Bruce Springsteen, Lloyd is at his best when he’s rocking out and this is exactly what he does on the opening track, the brilliantly crafted Hello The End. The first single from the album, it has a great hook and is bound to draw comparisons with R.E.M.. In fact, the Aussie even sounds like Michael Stipe on this song!
This is by far the heaviest produced album so far in Lloyd’s short career, and if anything it has been over-produced, as the edge has been taken off of his unique voice. Anyone who was at his sell-out gig at London’s Islington Academy this month will testify as to what a great voice he has, so why the need for it to be tampered with?
This bigger production is also emphasised by the use of strings during 1000 Miles, another song with a great chorus and one of five with a travel theme. The rocky Coming Home and slide-guitar laden Far Away will also have you singing along, even though the latter is a tad repetitive.
The title of best song on the album goes to the emotive Ordinary Boy. Strings and catchy hooks are again to the fore during a song that could so easily be Coldplay when Lloydie, as he’s affectionately known in Oz, sings, “Been waiting for a long time / Waiting so long.”
It’s fair to say there aren’t many surprises to be found on this album, but the weird spacey sounds that transcend from ear to ear (for those listening with headphones) at the start of This Is A Call are certainly a break from the norm. Sadly, the song that follows, featuring some very naff backing vocals, is one of the few disappointments on the album. Chasing The Sun continues the psychedelic theme, at the beginning of an appropriately titled sunny little number.
Light Is On stands out as another highlight, with a hypnotic acoustic riff repeated throughout behind yet another memorable vocal hook. And taking a leaf out of Elbow‘s book, a large chorus of singers, albeit not a gig crowd in this case, join in at the end to great effect.
What’s Wrong, a song about a relationship that’s breaking down, is just about as melancholy as the album gets, before America rounds it off with a country twang.