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Jackdaw4: Retrospectacles

Willie Dowling has always written and played marvelously accessible melodic music of the catchiest variety, whether it was with his first band The Grip, or with his ex Wildhearts band mate CJ in the chart friendly Honeycrack, Dowling's ability to create songs with phenomenal hooks and the most insistently catchy choruses has never dimmed. Since Honeycrack split, Dowling has spent a lot of his time writing theme and incidental music for UK TV shows as wide and varied as the adult humour of "Green Wing" to kid's shows such as "Meg & Mog". However while a huge amount of people are unwittingly listening to his creations, a smaller, yet far more fanatical bunch have followed Willie through his Cat People, Sugar Plum Fairies and The Celebrity Squares projects. The later band released only three CD singles before being forced to change their name and finally Jackdaw4 were born. 2004 saw Jackdaw4's debut Gramophone Logic, which was followed by Bipolar Diversions in 2007, both of which were independently released. Now with album number three on the horizon, FIXIT Records have signed the band and as way of introduction packaged their first two albums together along with some classy bonus tracks as Retrospectacles.

Dowling himself describes Jackdaw4's music as eclectic pop and whilst that is obviously an accurate description, the word "pop" conjures up such a negative image in so many people's mind that I would add the word power to that definition. Willie really is a master of moulding unusual styles and structures with glorious harmonies and sweet melodies and Gramophone Logic is jammed packed with those qualities. "This Is Your Life", "King For A Day", "Deep And Meaningless" and "Happy? (Dumka)" are just sublime with their unbelievable hooks and fantastic arrangements, however what really proves there class is the amazing ability of Jackdaw4 to make these songs interesting and challenging while maintaining their potential for mass appeal, there's everything from mandolin to keyboards aping harpsichords running through some of the most ear catching melodies that refuse to leave your mind.

Bipolar Diversions, whilst not quite as feel good as it's predecessor still contains amazingly sugar coated exteriors with centres to ponder and savour as they stun and excite with their eclectic mixes and instrumentation. It never ceases to amaze me how readily accessible the likes of "SOOMA (All This Vision)", "All Around The World" or "End Of The Party" are, however delve a little deeper and these songs are packed with little intricate twists and turns that make each and every subsequent re-listen an absolute joy. "Jesus Wants My Soul Back" illustrates the bands ability to swerve in different directions with a far quirkier sedate pace, however it's no surprise that even in these circumstances they throw in the odd curve ball and entertain hugely.

For those of you already in the know the fact that Retrospectacles contains four excellent bonus tracks is a reason to reacquaint with these songs. Of the bonuses, two are acoustic reworkings of Honeycrack classics ("Anyway" and "King Of Misery"), while the final acoustic track is "Strange Attraction" which is featured in it's original state elsewhere on the album, before the short power pop burst of "Day Time Soap Queen" closes out this fantastic set.

I really can't recommend Retrospectacles highly enough to anyone interested in music that contains awesome melodies, harmonies and hooks, or to those who prefer their power pop to be intelligent, interesting and involving.

Simply stunning!


Track Listing
1. This Is Your Life
2. The Day I Wrote The Book
3. King For A Day
4. Everything I See
5. Karaoke Ballet
6. Stupid
7. Deep And Meaningless
8. Strange Attraction
9. Maybe You Know
10. Happy? (Dumka)
11. Violent Streak
12. Sooma (All this vision)
13. Frobisher's last stand
14. Jesus wants my soul back
15. Bipolar diversions
16. My little gangsta
17. Heimlich's manoeuvres
18. All around the world
19. Illuminati
20. End of the party
21. Sleep
22. Anyway (Acoustic)
23. King Of Misery (Acoustic)
24. Strange Attraction (Acoustic)
25. Day Time Soap Queen

Added: January 1st 2010
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Band#'s Web Site
Hits: 1597
Language: english

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