Being slightly eclectic and jumping over genre boundaries with the elegant grace of a trained showjumper, on a horse, wearing springloaded ‘horse shoes’ and a top hat, is sure to get reviewers reaching for the alternatives to the word “inconsistent”.
There are times on The Blue Eyed Shark Experiment’s debut album The Fluffer when the sequencing doesn’t quite work, but it doesn’t really matter. There are enough brilliantly written songs here to make any ventures into folly and self-indulgence practically insignificant.
Whether BES is having a stab at straightforward folk, indulging in electro-pop, shaking his rump to glam rock influences, or sobbing gently as he croons his way through heartbroken ballads, he seems at home with whatever style he’s dabbling with. In this respect, he’s not too dissimilar to Stephen Jones of Babybird; everything is treated as just being music. Genres are ignored, and the song is all important. Like Jones, BES also fills his songs with a melancholy that can easily be missed amongst all the exquisite pop hooks that litter the album. He’s also not a million miles away vocally from the curmudgeonly Jones, most notably on the strange calypso infused folk of What To Do, which also finds time to borrow a bassline from Steve Miller’s The Joker before burrowing under the skin.
These are, essentially, very basic songs, but BES has added humility and flavour in just the right amounts to make an album of striking pop nuggets. The woozy folk pop of the title track could be played at a Greek funeral – or wedding – without anyone batting an eyelid, at least until it reaches its closing space rock frenzy. Goodbye My Little Friend is a delicately constructed tale of a relationship gone wrong. Its painful subject matter is dealt with effectively and the pure bombast of the chorus suggests that the line “victories come from your loss” comes straight from the heart. Despite the sadness clearly in evidence, there something marvellously triumphant about Goodbye My Little Friend that offers hope.
Then there’s the bizarre hop of Tapdance which finds David Essex meeting David Bowie and doing a little dance accompanied by Chas & Dave. Awash with kitsch charm and surreal lyrics, Scissor Sisters would surely kill to have this tune in their arsenal.
Admittedly, the catchy but throwaway Travis-lite skip of Rain might let the side down slightly, but the sincerity of Look Back’s chorus, or the ill advised but somehow genius electopop of Jet-Plane more than make up for it.
Ultimately, The Fluffer is an exercise in expert song writing. Mr Blue Eyed Shark will be filing positive results for this particular experiment.