What do I like best about this album? It’s the voice, the retro sounding hooks and the overall delivery of this album. The voice ranges from a Bowie-like croon to a Stephin Merritt ( The Magnetic Fields) to Ed Macfarlane of Friendly Fires with a beat which is soulfully danceable with a trebly- like 80’s pop revival. There is a lounge-like feel to this record yet a danceable, poppy orientation.
The lyrics are hopefully melancholic with an almost dream-like quality to them. The hooks are large especially on songs like “Villas” with a huge chorus “To the Villas, we go, in my mind, silver houses made of straw.” All of this with a big AM radio like fervor ever present during the optimism of the early to mid 70’s . The wishes on this record are hopeful yet sarcastic sung with a soulful 80’s like overtone. This is evident on the beautifully pop oriented “Pleased”, great bass line and wonderful lyrics “I got everything I need, and I’m pleased to say that you have run away with me…” The piano bangs out a nice progression with the bass thumping and a soulful stomp. It crescendos up to the chorus and with that whistling type whirl like what you would hear from Dee-Lite’s 90’s classic “Groove is in the Heart.”
The mood changes as there are downbeats especially on “Walk in Three” where you hear a foghorn-like trumpet reminiscent of the Blue Nile, or the heavy background sounds of “Too Much” with loud brassy noisy ethereal sounds layered with a rhythmic beat and poignant lyrics and voice, almost mysterious, huge loud chorus, a bit noisy and ethereal. It has a chiming type quality and oozes with coolness.
There are many danceable club songs here. Look no further than “In Time”, a bright, funky bass line with a perfectly timed lyric “We’ll never make it in time…It’s a part of the design, you never make it in time.” This is one of the best songs on the album, but this album is full of this kind of song and feel. It’s an unusual and unique sound, a sound all its own which is updated and retro, sometimes comfortable and empathetic. In a way, it’s a comfortable sound which is easily danceable and listenable, spacey yet familiar but eclectic enough to keep the listener coming back well after the first few listens. This is 9.0 out of 10.
Artist: Amateur Best
Album Name: No Thrills
Label/ Release: Double Denim / February 4, 2013
Tracks: 1) Ready for the Good Life 2)Too Much 3) Villas 4) The Wave 5)Pleased 6)In Time 7)Walk in Three 8)Be Happy 9)Get Down 10) No Thrills