PHOTOBOOK – Shimmering Lights Are Pointing Out The Way
(Best Kept Secret)
Phototbook are an experimental English band who recorded these nine songs on a four-track recorder using old organs, drum machines, children’s toys and other oddments. That sounds like it might be an interesting listen, but the band then took those tracks and manipulated them by speeding them up, slowing them down, and reversing them, resulting in an album of weird post-rock indie pop which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. Opener ‘Storms’ is a bit of a mess, and does not bode well for what follows, but things do improve with ‘Breaking Hearts (Like Old Guitars)’ which is an organ/drum machine song which sounds quite normal. ‘Fergus’ is almost a post-rock instrumental with added vocal, and is the most successful track so far, while ‘To Westernesse’ is a quirky little song which ends with an extended instrumental passage using backwards tapes and effects. ‘Swim Your Skinny Legs Off’ has some intriguing drum patterns and ‘Give Me A Moment’ is the most ‘normal’ song on here. ‘Nautical Divide’ and ‘Untitled’ are two extremes juxtaposed next to each other, with the former utilising a plaintive vocal over just guitar and drum machine, and the latter almost screaming the lyrics over an upbeat rocker. ‘Paramedics’ closes the tape with a quite enjoyable post-rock instrumental, and that is it. Quite a mixture of styles and ideas are presented on this album, and perhaps that is why it does not quite work for me. There seems to be too much going on at once, and I feel that they should have either gone for the post-rock instrumentals – which I would have enjoyed more - or the indie synth pop without all the experimentation. I am sure that it turned out exactly as the band wanted but it is just too unfocussed to really enjoy.