Keith (the most prosaically named band of all time? Only Brian comes close) are pretty wellknown on their local Manchester scene. They fill out medium-sizedvenues regularly and their debut EP met with a general wave of criticalapproval. They produce toe-tapping indie as well as a more cinematic, ‘epic’variety of tune. My sort of thing, usually, and by all empiricaldata, I should like this album.
But somehow I just don’t. It’s not even that this is necessarily a badalbum; indeed it’s certainly got its plus points. From the slip-slidingSmiths-ian jangle of opening track Back There, to the instrumentalmeltdown of The Miller, via the echoing Doves-a-like groove ofGunshot Revelry and Unsold Thoughts and the dirty disco of Faces. Taken eachon their own, these aren’t bad songs, so it’s kind of difficult to call RedThread a ‘bad album’.
Perhaps it’s that Oli Bayston’s voice sometimes falls flatter thanown-brand cola (for example on You)? The instrumental track, The Miller, isindeed my favourite song on here. But I’m not normally a stickler for vocalperfection, I idolise Jimi Hendrix after all. Maybe it’s thatKeith’s broad musical palette strays intro genre-magpie syndrome? But thenwho can argue when a band is so young and on the whole, making generallyquite pleasant music?
In fact it’s exactly this ‘quite pleasant music’ that I object to. Ican’t remember how many times I’ve listened to this album, but on nooccasion have I been forced to sit up and take notice of it – it seems todrift by in the background. Back There is a fairly promising beginning, butall the following tracks systematically destroy any hope of any urgency totheir music – there’s nothing here to really excite, or that could be calledexcellent. It’s all passable, okay, averagely listenable.
Mona Lisa’s Child is a plodding bore of a track; you keep waiting for aconclusion that never seems to come. Down Below is a footnote to the entirealbum that may as well not be there, by which time you’re waiting for thedamn thing to end so you can put on something with a bit of excitement, somevim and vigour – all of which are largely anathema to Red Thread.
I wanted to give these guys a positive review, perhaps out of some falsesense of comradeship seeing as we are all current/recent students inManchester. Unfortunately the reality is that Red Thread is almost aspedestrian an album as Keith is a band name. Were Keith still at university,this work might have been received an anodyne assessment like: “Generallysound, but lacks coherence, and much personal style. 2.ii.” Or, in our morefamiliar language of music criticism: “Not great. Two stars.”