Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Further Adventures Of Vodka Boy ALBUM

The Further Adventures Of Vodka Boy - "Triple Filtered"
Words by Phil W.

There’s a man; not an old man but maybe not such a young man either. He stands in front of the bathroom mirror and examines the faint lines creeping around the far edges of his eyes. He makes cocoa and reads a little by the light of the bedside lamp. It’s late and he is tired and he turns out the light and lays back in his bed and pulls the covers up close to his chin. For a minute he looks up at the ceiling where the orange light from the street lamp beyond the bedroom curtains make turbulent shapes out of the ceiling paper that seem to blend and swirl into each other as if the contours of a rolling Atlantic sea. As he closes his eyes he can still see the dark, burning sea rolling beneath his eyelids and far away across the ocean he can see ships like mountains that float on the sea breaking over the horizon….

The Further Adventures Of Vodka Boy's third album and first with drummer / percussionist James Türl begins with the gentle strum of an acoustic guitar, some distant percussive thumps and an understated horn section that literally carries you off with the tide into the dream-like world of Triple Filtered. It’s a feeling that infects the whole record, as dozens of disjointed images and ideas are played out in the lyrics of songs like Brady Flinched and Iridium Layer, creating the soundtrack for a dreamy night’s sleep. Even the more straight-forward songs here sound like they’re breaking through a dreamy haze only to drop back into it again like the more memorable episodes of a restless night. Obvious single April sounds like a collection of teenage memories all combined into the personification of a girl you’ve never met but miss when you wake. The song is beautifully balanced at the end of the record by Humanist Love Song that is perhaps one of the most honest love songs about love and being in love I’ve ever heard.

The dream-like world that The Further Adventures Of Vodka Boy have built here seems to have freed them to write some very honest observations of their world. Cleavers Avenue and the brilliant Cougar Bait both rock and both contemplate issues of growing older and moving on but both in very different ways. Cougar Bait sounds like comic relief on the surface but underneath seems to be making some shrewd observations about age and finding your place in the world. Awkward Much delivers up a painting of people who prefer to talk about themselves in the detached third person, who don’t feel they fit in with the world around them. But this also means Humanist Love Song sounds so completely honest – it’s humorous, clever and totally heartfelt. And by the end of the record Vodka Boy seem quite happy to wake up and quite at peace with themselves in Cheerful Is The New Miserable as Matthew tells everyone to turn left to the rising sun breaking over the horizon. The song starts with some angular punk momentum and stories of girls building spaceships in their sheds, before breaking into a cheery sing-along that turns Bob Dylan’s frown upside-down before clattering into the impulsive round of clapping that closes the album.

Guitarist Martin Ibbotson pens two songs on the record, both of which slot seamlessly into the mix, albeit with Martin’s trademark songcraftsmanship. Hold Out Your Arms combines some dark imagery with a broad uplifting sentiment and one of the catchiest choruses on the record. He also produced the album and the result is a record that sounds very cohesive and focused, and meticulous in a well assembled kind of way. Vodka Boy don’t sound like anyone else here and this album doesn’t sound much like the previous two records but this all works to their advantage as they forge out confidently on their own path. At times this is an album that can make you smile or frown, that feels at odds with the world but can still smile when the sun rises again. It is an album full of all the contradictions of the human psyche and gives no explanation or apology for the ideas that swirl around inside its insular, dreamy world. It’s not worried about making a fool of its self in the pursuit of something great, and that’s what actually makes it truly great. The xylophone solo on The Cats Of Queen Ber
úthiel and the goofy smiles at the end of Cheerful Is The New Miserable sound like genius next to wonderful pop of April, Humanist Love Song and Hold Out Your Arms, the dreamy Brady Flinched, Cleavers Avenue and Iridium Layer, the bold Cougar Bait and the dark Awkward Much. And for all these reasons, this may be the Vodka Boys’ finest record to date.