See The Light is an album that has a fairly predictable criticaltrajectory. Mainstream publications will give it apolite four stars, while independents will be dreaming up acrobaticarrangements of bile to launch at what is a fairly inoffensiverelease.
It’s all down to the Damien Hirst factor, really: he providesthe cover art and is the chief financier of The Hours. Throw inendorsements from Zane Lowe and Jarvis Cocker, and Flood on productionduties, and you can see why the major, established music press arebound to give a nod, while the more maverick critics will be drawingattention to the whiff of old-boyism that seems to surround theaffair.
But in honour of Anthony Genn’s frank lyrics, we say bollocksto the politics. It’s all about the music, after all. And on See TheLight the music is… well, okay. Ish. It’s the kind of album you tend to think of as reliable.
This is most noticeable with the opening four tracks, which mergefairly seamlessly into one another on the back ofColdplay-esque piano chords; choppy, hyperactive drums; andtime signatures that are a bit reminiscent of a pacemaker. Come On isthe worst offender here, coming off like something that TakeThat would quite happily take on.
2009 has, so far, been anexciting year for music, with innovative, brilliant releasesclamouring for attention every week. Compared to some of these, SeeThe Light isn’t genre-bursting. But does it have to be in order to bea good record? This will probably depend on the listener. And TheHours plough the soft-rock option pretty well. The tunes are catchy,immediate and pleasant, if not hugely exciting.
However, after the monotone twilight of the album’s openingsegment, Car Crash cranks the pace up. Genn snarls: “Meand you were just a car crash baby/ if you wanna slow down to take alook/ I hear you’ve been trying hard to engage me/ well maybe I justdon’t really give a fuck”.
There’s something about the way the drawledexpletive plays off against the tinkling piano that is reminiscent ofthe beloved and bad-mouthed Arab Strap. Genn is flattering todeceive, though, as the stadium rock guitar kicks in and he hollers:”there’s a light at the end of the tunnel”.
Lyrically, the album is, well, a bit of a car crash. On Big BlackHole, Genn sings, “I’m going to tell you something you might not wannahear”. But he doesn’t. Instead he’s going to tell you that”life was so much simpler then”; that “talk is cheap”; and “these daysthe honest man is an endangered species”. Honesty was never sodull.
So let’s just say this one falls somewhere between good and awful.It probably fits snugly into the guilty pleasure category, for whenyou don’t want your brain challenged too much, and want something withwhich to hum along. You might even want to dance around your room likeit’s 1999 and everyone still thinks the YBAs are still relevant. Ah,sorry, Damien – couldn’t resist.