Following on from the frankly rather bizarre news that Noel Gallagher had been wooing Richard Warren aka Echoboy to join Oasis (“Strawberry Fields in a post industrial style, our kid? Sorted”) along comes the third album from the Nottinghamshire songwriter.
It’s intriguing to imagine how Warren would have fitted into Oasis, as Echoboy is about as far from the Gallaghers as you can imagine. Rich soundscapes of ambient electronica abound here, with Warren’s vocals subject to all manner of experimentation. It’s probably Echoboy’s most commercial release yet – every track has lyrics this time, albeit rather dark ones, and there are even tunes, such as Good On TV, that you can imagine the milkman whistling in the morning.
Echoboy’s long term fans shouldn’t fear that he’s sold out however, as the trademark chaotic noise still holds sway. The difference is that legendary producer Flood has kept a tight hold of the self-indulgence that marred Warren’s previous albums, and let the songs come to the fore. And what superb songs they are, dark, sinister, yet possessed with a melodic edge that could yet swell Warren’s loyal band of followers.
Opener Automatic Eyes is a fairly standard electro-stomp, drums to the fore and Warren’s vocals computerised to sinister effect until he yelps “I lost control on Thursday morning”. It’s a perfect scene setter and leads nicely into Don’t Destroy Me, in which it’s clear why Warren likes layering effects onto his voice, as his untreated voice is a rather whiny affair.
The lyrical content of the album is rather bleak, with Comfort Of The Hum being especially foreboding. Warren bemoans a world full of “sick and meaningless songs” before finding solace in lying between electricity pylons and discovering the “comfort of the hum”. Well, it makes a change from trashing hotel rooms and throwing televisions out of the window.
The middle part of Giraffe becomes a bit self-indulgent, with tracks such as High Speed In Love and Fun In You meandering by without making much of an impression. However, this could be Echoboy’s way of setting people up for the final four tracks, which are nothing short of stunning. Lately Lonely could almost be described as glam-goth, while Good On TV is one of the highlights of the album, with Warren throwing his heart and soul into the chorus of “it’s never gonna happen to me/’cos I don’t look good on TV”.
Even Good On TV pales though in comparison to Wasted Spaces, quite simply seven minutes of enthrallingly exhilarating music. Looping a sample of “what do you think?” around a cacophony of noise which builds up to a thrilling climax where Warren sneers “think of all the wasted spaces”. Imagine Trent Reznor producing Beck after a particularly heavy night out and you may have some idea.
It’s intriguing to imagine how Richard Warren would have sounded as part of Oasis. If he’s regretting not taking Noel up on his offer though, he shouldn’t. Giraffe is an exciting, addictive album that deserves a much wider audience than it will probably attract.