...And you’re sure Black Nielson are not Yankee boys? Whilst just singing in an American accent is derigeur amongst the rock & roll fraternity, Michael Gale seems to dripping stateside college rock from every pore. Whilst some half-baked dustbowl polemic could sound very embarrassing indeed, he does at least convince. If you listen very hard, I’m sure you can hear the very moment tobacco spittle hits the floor.
‘The Seahorse Boe’ (nice title) isn’t an unequivocal success. Some songs seem to meander a little aimlessly in the fog of their own ambience and ‘F.S.U.’ is just plain poor... two and a half minutes of feet welded to distortion pedal. It’s when the band decide to embrace a winning tune and a tearstained lyric sheet that the over-flurries of fuzzy guitar are forgiven. ‘Dead Lucky’ is just dead beautiful and Gale’s little boy lost vocals could hardly sound more soaked in heartache, while the feral howls of the choruses of ‘The Human Strain’_ contrast well with the barely-out-of-bed drawl of the verses.
It’s a partly wonderful record. Black Nielson seem to be a band limbering up to greatness, while not having quite harnessed all their finer qualities yet. Rather than plump for the polished sheen of a ten cut classic of 3 minute breezy indie rock or wig out à la Sigur Ros, ‘The Seahorse Boe’ uncomfortably straddles the two. With their more eclectic, pastoral arrangements, album closers ‘Your Faint Heart And Guardian’ and ‘Conflict K’ seem to suggest that mellower things may be to come.
6Chris Hilliard's Score