October 19, 2021

Randolph’s Leap – Cowardly Deeds

OLIVE GROVE RECORDS      20th May 2016

I have a soft spot for Scottish indie. It’s between my ears. Give me some cute lyrics, a coy vocal and pop tunes and I start to swoon. Make it a band who nearly called their debut EP “While My Catarrh Gently Seeps” and you have my full attention.

Hence, I like this very much. Tunes are hook-laden and arrangements simple and clear; indie staples supplemented with a spot of light organ, a dab of strings and a good deal of horn (well, if it turned Love’s Forever Changes into a classic…..). Production is close and detailed, things like the scratch of fingers on guitar strings come through and the voice is nice and close. All the better to catch the clever lyrics with. Adam Ross is the lyricist and it is his tales of lack of conviction and self-doubt that make this set, carrying flavours of King Creosote and Neil Hannon.

They rhyme “if life keeps giving you the finger” with “this is the place I would linger”. Before long, on the bouncy, horn and bass driven Not Thinking, they ask; “Are you coming round, to my way of not thinking?” “You sit there in your chinos, eating jalapenos, complaining that your mouth is too hot”- I could go on with quotes for ages. The band have had time: After a flurry of singles, EP and album in 2011 – 14, the band took time to produce this, their second album, or maybe their fourth; they are so into the indie aesthetic that releases are official, unofficial, download only, cassette, pouring out as the whim takes them or their songbook is full. This one gets proper distribution on the Olive Grove label.

It’s a big band, eight people, and the pop they make is energetic and fun. The tracks were recorded live in the studio, without a metronome, allowing the organic shifts in tempo a band would take in an gig and making for a joyous listen. Microcosm is a punky little number, rhyming ‘blossom’ and ‘microcosm’ alongside a backing chorus of la-la-las. The result is full of life and happiness. It is followed by the sorer Regret: “Christ. I’ve been sliced. You know, a quiet word would have sufficed”. The songs here focus on uncertainty, not knowing what to believe, what to say, how to be. Sensitive souls, this is remarkably a celebration of human frailty and the tapestry of life as a complex creature.

Just over half an hour of catchy folk-pop, yet a slice of life is here. Try it.