Album Reviews

Thomas Bromley – Two-Nine-Five

(4 Real) UK release date: 3 April 2006

Let’s just cut to the chase: Thomas Bromley, like the musical equivalent of a pair of socks, is evidently competent but thoroughly unremarkable. He probably fancies himself as a bit of a Jeff Buckley, whereas a comparison to any number of X-Factor winners and cast-offs would be more appropriate. This LP, unsurpisingly, is polished to within an inch of its life.

Remember Robert Post? No, didn’t think you would. Thomas is the British Robert Post. Robert Post is a saturated incarnation of Gisli. Gisli is hit-and-miss at best. Ergo, Thomas Bromley is two steps down from flawed. Are you still with me? Good.

Danger Ahead, the album’s opener and recent single, is pretty much indicative of the album as a whole: its not terrible, and builds quite effectively, with some – gasp – electric guitars blessing proceedings throughout. Bromley has a decent voice, but with the lyrics-by-numbers on show here, you’d be hard pressed to care. It has all the emotional impact of a weekday afternoon on Radio 2.

The predictability of tracks like Out There (cringey, inflected ballad), Standing Strong (cringier inflected ballad) and Home (cringiest inflected ballad) is sadly familiar. It comes as no surprise to see that Bromley is a music college graduate: this is the kind of safe material that would very easily garnish a C at GCSE.

In his defence, the fella plugs away without fail, and even hits the mark once or twice (All The Things We Need scoring unintended points for sounding like The Proclaimers). His case is not helped, however, by that fact that the two best tracks – the relatively noteworthy Bye The Way and Mark My Words – are little more than tributes to one another. Perhaps they were products of the same Tuesday morning lesson on chord building.

This is confounded, alas, by the presence of Kelly Clarkson producer Porl Young, whose appreciation for lo-fi is about as developed as his parents’ sense of spelling: every note is clinically clear, every drum strike sounds like it was lifted from a database of typical pop sounds. The end result is something terrifically sterile that will endure a few spins on the airwaves before being put back in its box indefinitely.

I would have liked to hear Tommy in a dive of a studio, struggling to craft his songs with a first-time producer and a bare cast of veteran session musicians. But that’s never going to happen – his strength lies in pandering to the softcore, and Two-Nine-Five, it seems, will disappear without trace.

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Thomas Bromley – Two-Nine-Five