|Thread Pulls - 'New Thoughts' (Osaka Records)|
|Written by Julian Prothero|
|Sunday, 14 November 2010 05:00|
Well it certainly starts interestingly enough, 'How To Talk' stirs into life with some of the best sounding drums I've heard all year, with added plaintive trumpet in the background setting the tone for... something, anything? Nope, anyone expecting anything more is likely to walk away disappointed/unfulfilled/ a combination of both (delete as appropriate). Not much happens at all.
But then that's probably the point, most if not all of the tracks on display here unfold in a similar vein, with some thrilling and some disappointing in equal measure. Thread Pulls consist of Gavin Duffy on vocals/bass/trumpet and Peter Maybury on drums/synths. Thus, musically and vocally crowded these songs are not. But this suits the duo just fine, to an extent.
'Weight' is perhaps the most straightforward song that this album offers and is a good starting point for anyone wanting to know just what it is that Thread Pulls do, with airy synths topping off a basic drum and bass affair, with sprinkles of angular vocals over the top. Third track 'These New Thoughts' kicks off with a sinister two-note bass line, with driving drumbeat, it is the unfortunate case that nothing much else of note happens but this is a prime example of Thread Pulls doing what they do very well indeed. This song has stealthily crawled into my brain like a parasite and nested there making me a somewhat unwitting host.
The album does sag rather in the middle of its run though, 'Starts/ends' tries to go somewhere towards the end of its run, but the synth line is perhaps a little too weak to take any particular notice of, but again, this kind of understated approach is probably what Thread Pulls are aiming for. 'HhYy' however, is just repetitive bilge, lyrically and musically and sounds like a total after (new) thought. (See what I did there? No? Fine, wasn't that funny anyway). This is followed by the tedious 'Sink And Swim'. 'Dead Heat' then swoops in and picks proceedings back up with a vengeance, with a nicely understated bassline and pounding-yet-still-laidback drumming, extra kudos also for the lovely bridge bassline that sees the song out to its conclusion.
At first this album seemed to offer little but repetition and bland vocal stylings that go nowhere, but subsequent listens allow the songs to reveal themselves just a little bit more each time and soon you find yourself nodding along and enjoying the vast majority of the music on offer. Well that's what happened for me. MAYBE IT'LL HAPPEN FOR YOU TOO!!! More plus points can be awarded for the different atmospheres that Duffy and Maybury create across the various tracks working with more or less the same set of instruments. For example, 'How To Talk' and 'Weight' giving off a slightly mournful tone, this is followed by the ominous tone set by 'These New Thoughts' which is, in turn, followed by the upbeat 'Starts/ends'. Good stuff.
However there are some negative points to be made. Duffy's vocals may be an issue for some people, recalling LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy to an extent especially on 'Weight' both in tone and lyrically in the topics he covers. However Murphy's 'hipster ramblings' lend him an endearing quality and frequently show a certain degree of vulnerability and humour, often within the same song. Sadly Thread Pulls frequently don't seem to emote anything, and sound as if they are trying to be a little too observational, aloof and even 'hip' but it just ends up feeling a little bit contrived and even clinical in places - 'HhYy' for example. I really don't mind the vocal style, but the lyrics here are also pretty lacklustre and seem to have been conceived purely to give an impression of pretence, which falls flat on its face.
You'd also think that with just drums and bass being the primarily played instruments on offer here you'd be in for a respectably meaty wall of chest-rumbling sound, unfortunately the bass sounds incredibly weedy, and doesn't seem to equal more than the sum of their parts. For example, a band such as The xx make a strong case for limitation and space in music with a superb less is more feel to the music they create. Thread Pulls often make you feel as if more would actually mean far more across the range of tracks this album offers.
Overall 'New Thoughts' is far from terrible; ultimately it just isn't really all that interesting. Thread Pulls seem content to wander aimlessly. Artists don't necessarily have to write well-crafted pop songs in order to find a modicum of success, but they do usually have to offer something. There are certainly some good ideas present here and I quite enjoy the stripped down approach that has been taken, I just think that far more could be accomplished with it.