The Isle of Wight has not hitherto been regarded as a hotbed of musical innovation, for good reason. Well, think again, for this gem of an album may well put the seaside town of Ventnor on the rock ‘n’ roll map, it being the home of Drew Kennet, whose homespun, lo-fi approach makes a refreshing change from mechanical corporate rock and whining three-chord wonders.
The album sounds as though it was recorded on a rainy afternoon in someone’s front room, which is actually part of its charm. However, the unfinished, rough demo quality of the album does some of the tracks a disservice, especially the beautiful Leave The Fear, which sounds like an Oasis out-take, but with a little more polish could be a breakthrough hit. The same goes for OK To Cry, almost a rewrite of Wonderwall, but which never seems to achieve lift off.
Both are, however, typical, of the consistently high level of melodic invention evident on the album. Ornamentation is kept to a minimum, just some piano that sounds as though it was recorded on a beat-up old cassette, some pleasing guitar licks and harmonies from Drew and collaborator (and producer) Paul Butler that are (mostly) spot on. There’s also some welcome brass colouring on the catchy opening track (and single) Dig Deeper.
There are some fairly obvious influences at work. Those harmonies and the prettiness of some of the tunes suggest Lennon and McCartney circa The White Album. The upper register vocals on You Don’t Know Me are reminiscent of Neil Young, while the mid-’60s feel of Changing Face underlines Drew’s comment that the album is “all about loving ’60s music, but sounding modern,” a trick that, like The Coral , he pulls of pretty successfully.
An impressive statement of intent then, but don’t scrimp on the recording costs next time boys. For all this album’s innocent, throwaway charm, songs of these quality deserve rather more tender loving care.