Adventure Club are Oliver Williams and Ryan Davis, two childhood friends who have grown up to produce a full, layered and ecstatic album full of good, old-fashioned pop tunes. No pretentions, no deep messages, just catchy hooks and good songs.
There are elements of Pulp to be heard in their radio-friendly ditties, and in their vocals, and traces of both Roxy Music and Lloyd Cole And The Commotions in their delivery. They are Birmingham-based, and three of the tracks here are produced by Editors‘ sound engineer Nick Ingram, who also produced Adventure Club’s earliest demos, while the album is produced by Phil Vinall, who has previously done the deed for everyone from Placebo to Snow Patrol to Babyshambles.
The result falls happily somewhere between the late ’70s/early ’80s glam pop, its revival at the height of Britpop and the retro tones that everyone from The Killers to The Long Blondes have returned to recently. You can imagine it wearing eyeliner and gold suits, but doing so in darkened rooms at the back of Wolverhampton pubs rather than on the stages of former music halls.
And though it shouldn’t make a difference to how good a review their music gets, don’t they look stylish and all together lovely, the kind of pop urchins you could take home to your mother, standing them in the corner and letting them busk away all night? The gorgeous cover to their album, showing a ship wrecked on an iceberg, is also beautiful, though their music is nowhere as cold as this image implies.
There’s something unbearably appealing about pop music that is not ashamed to categorise itself as such. It doesn’t need to be twee or folky, or overly shiny and scrubbed, to do its job and, in the best tradition, Adventure Club simply get on with it. The keyboards and drumming on The Going is especially catchy. Werewolf’s jazzy piano also stands out as a best moment.
Such shameless pop sensibilities do, however, leave it difficult to make specific comments. It’s all entertaining surface fluff, but surface fluff nonetheless. There are no deep and meaningful lyrics to comment on, no social commentary to be made. On the other hand, perhaps managing to make music this bright and uplifting when you come from Birmingham is an achievement in itself. It beats moaning about how miserable the West Midlands are for a change, anyway.
In the middle of the wettest summer on record, when you need an umbrella if not a dinghy on hand before you venture out, we need a tonic against the greyness and monotony. Until the sun comes out to play, Adventure Club will do nicely.