If you like your lo-fi to sweat classic pop pastiche, or your indie singer to croon like he's a drunk in a tux, then you'll get a lot out of 'Invitation To The Feast', the crunchily rich album from Duncan Fleming's War Against Sleep. Despite the slight distortions of a lo-fi recording, the songs are an ambitious, groovy blend of late 60s garage, wiggly noises, piano-led balladry and the odd moment of Nick Cave-ish histrionics.
I'm never quite sure what Fleming is going on about. His vocals don't draw one into the subject matter enough, particularly when the lyrics have a gothic floweriness of almost Joanna Newsom proportion. It ain't no big criticism though, because the overall vibe is so satisfying. It doesn't get much more exuberant than recent single Borderline Personality, which has funky rhodes-led chops, while Teletext Nights blends dramatics, trombone and plinky-plonk to describe a bored, lost life.
Weaker bits pout towards annoying Britpop territory and, unfortunately, My Life Story spring to mind at one point. But that's not to detract from the cooler moments that occupy the bulk of space on this record. War Against Sleep can creep up behind you and do you with a wet tea towel when you least expect it. When Fleming sings "let me kiss you with kisses on the mouth" over some claustrophobic harpsichord to open Song Of Songs and then closes that same verse with "your name's like perfume poured out", it's smotheringly seductive.
Overall, a fine concoction...
7Toby Jarvis's Score