Thursday, 31 January 2013

Recommended music: 'Urban Heat Island' by Night Works

The debut album from Gabriel Stebbing, formerly of Metronomy, shows the assurance and confidence of someone who knows exactly how they want their record to sound, and who's managed to hit the musical nail squarely on the head. Produced by his former bandmate Joseph Mount there are, unsurprisingly, a few echoes of their shared past in her, particularly on opener 'Boys Born In Confident Times'. From here though Stebbing evolves his own particularly sound, and although at times he seems to share the same 80s influences as acts such as Kindness and M83, there are other sources at work here as well. The bass lines have echoes of 70s Chic as well as 80s Paul Simon tracks like 'You Can Call Me Al', while 'Nathaniel' sounds like a long lost Prefab Sprout classic. Elsewhere there are hints of Steely Dan, even snatches of Prince and The Human League (I bet Night Works could make a killer covers album), but he never seems over-awed by the weight of his predecessors.  Instead Stebbing has created an entirely beguiling album that mixes craft and skill with a lightness of touch and an overall sense of enjoyment, resulting in a record that is more than equal to the sum of its parts.

The only disappointing thing about this album is that the version of last year's brilliant 'I Tried So Hard' isn't the full extended version that made me fall in love with this band in the first place, but you'll just have to go and hunt that down as well (you can listen to it below).

Even the rather incongruous rap on 'Share The Weather' doesn't spoil the party, sounding instead like a polite and well-mannered gatecrasher. I mentioned when I features 'Long Forgotten Boy' as Track of the Day a while ago that its guitars at the start somehow remind me of XTC (at the end they're much more of a Chic vibe), and I've now heard tones of Robert Wyatt in the vocals as well. Here's the Radio Edit of it:

'Urban Heat Island' is released on March 4th on Loose Lips Records.

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