Rating: 8 / Format: CD/LP / Label: Type Records
Fred Thomas’ City Centre project – essentially a solo effort from the New York-via-Michigan based lynchpin of experimental indie rockers Saturday Looks Good To Me – has been coming under some flack. Certain quarters of the blogging cognoscenti have been quick to slam Thomas’s anonymous debut as one fat-arsed Animal Collective rip-off. Well, sure. It might be. As Deerhunter sound like a less shit MBV, so too does Thomas’ offering take an overrated inspiration and turn it into something more rewarding. City Centre transcends any notions of irritating American Apparel endorsed hippy hype and stands out in its own, charming, merits.
Thomas’ voice is – of course – smothered in digitally treated and refracted mulch. The music is equally pretty; cosmic slop as aural candy floss. But amidst the washes of pleasingly muffled vocals, delayed Midi marimbas and slabs of music concrete are tunes. Big, beautiful, bloody lovely tunes. ‘Young Diamond’ is like cupping your ear to a wall behind which Beck is re-discovering his One Foot In The Grave era mojo via Ecstasy. ‘Gladest’ is so much like Animal Collective but so much more hooky, swoonsome and lovely – and less irritating.
For the most part, City Centre’s sound is that of a glorious spontaneity. It’s a joy to hear songs start off in one way and move into other, greener and greater, pastures. This successful musical-morphing is ultimately down to Thomas’ near enviable knack for melody and it’s this – not the sonic sorcery employed – that makes the album so addictive.