Album Reviews

Keith – Red Thread

(Lucky Number) UK release date: 29 May 2006

Keith - Red Thread Keith (the most prosaically named band of all time? Only Brian comes close) are pretty well known on their local Manchester scene. They fill out medium-sized venues regularly and their debut EP met with a general wave of critical approval. They produce toe-tapping indie as well as a more cinematic, ‘epic’ variety of tune. My sort of thing, usually, and by all empirical data, I should like this album.

But somehow I just don’t. It’s not even that this is necessarily a bad album; indeed it’s certainly got its plus points. From the slip-sliding Smiths-ian jangle of opening track Back There, to the instrumental meltdown of The Miller, via the echoing Doves-a-like groove of Gunshot Revelry and Unsold Thoughts and the dirty disco of Faces. Taken each on their own, these aren’t bad songs, so it’s kind of difficult to call Red Thread a ‘bad album’.

Perhaps it’s that Oli Bayston’s voice sometimes falls flatter than own-brand cola (for example on You)? The instrumental track, The Miller, is indeed my favourite song on here. But I’m not normally a stickler for vocal perfection, I idolise Jimi Hendrix after all. Maybe it’s that Keith’s broad musical palette strays intro genre-magpie syndrome? But then who can argue when a band is so young and on the whole, making generally quite pleasant music?

In fact it’s exactly this ‘quite pleasant music’ that I object to. I can’t remember how many times I’ve listened to this album, but on no occasion have I been forced to sit up and take notice of it – it seems to drift by in the background. Back There is a fairly promising beginning, but all the following tracks systematically destroy any hope of any urgency to their music – there’s nothing here to really excite, or that could be called excellent. It’s all passable, okay, averagely listenable.

Mona Lisa’s Child is a plodding bore of a track; you keep waiting for a conclusion that never seems to come. Down Below is a footnote to the entire album that may as well not be there, by which time you’re waiting for the damn thing to end so you can put on something with a bit of excitement, some vim and vigour – all of which are largely anathema to Red Thread.

I wanted to give these guys a positive review, perhaps out of some false sense of comradeship seeing as we are all current/recent students in Manchester. Unfortunately the reality is that Red Thread is almost as pedestrian an album as Keith is a band name. Were Keith still at university, this work might have been received an anodyne assessment like: “Generally sound, but lacks coherence, and much personal style. 2.ii.” Or, in our more familiar language of music criticism: “Not great. Two stars.”

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