The Keys - Christmas EP

Owain Paciuszko 02/01/2010

Rating: 4/5

Apologies in advance to The Keys for this somewhat belated review of their recent seasonal 5 track. Opening up as it does with the festively titled Queuing Up For Christmas Time which meshes a laidback Seachange-era Beck style with Brian Wilson surf harmonies and rich production values. Fortunately unlike the gratingly repeat played likes of Slade and Shakin' Stevens this is a Christmas song that works outside of the season, it's a great song that just-so-happens to be about Christmas.

Second track Somewhere brings to mind Eels going retro with its laidback groove and languid, dreamtime vocals. This record, recorded by the five piece band in their own studio on 16 track tape, has a great sound to the tracks, homespun and carefully crafted with the band all on fine form. There's A Place is a woozy song with the fuzzy haze of a long journey home for Christmas, whilst The Reveal is an endearing harp/guitar instrumental before the epic finale of Strange Garden; beginning with tail-end of the 60s psychedelic pop bombast before morphing into a wild and woolly number that kind of sits closer to the Super Furry Animals interpretation of the past, or, perhaps, Beck's recent Velvet Underground cover project. Nevertheless, it barrels ahead with suitable energy and verve on a driving beat and a catchy, lucid repetition of the track title. It comes to a glorious clattering finale as the guitar lines sway in a haze between channels and a lolloping keyboard line bottlenecks everything like the closing moments of Steppenwolf's almighty Magic Carpet Ride to an end.

Never gimmicky or cliche, this is a fine EP that transcends my tardiness by being good enough to warrant a listen not just immediatley post-Christmas, but at any time across the following 364 shopping days...