Canvey Island - Welcome to Canvey Island

Will Metcalfe 17/12/2007

Rating: 3.5/5

'Canvey Island is singer/songwriter Chris Farrance' - this much I know thanks to a hand-written note on the inside of the sleeve, and very nicely written it is too. Beginning with that all familiar static that often comes from dreadfully indulgent 'artists' who insist on documenting their work, my initial reaction was dread, yet as soon as the music kicks in this naughty presupposition was vanquished.

Canvey Island sounds like he has listened to a whole lot of Radiohead, or at least he does on tracks like 'Black Vinyl' saturated in reverb, yet beneath the effects lays a fantastic track that wouldn't sound out of place at ATP or hyped-to-fuck on Pitchfork. Elsewhere comparisons to Mssrs. Yorke, Greenwood and co. are far less likely; a blend of the simple end of Elliott Smith's guitar work and cockney boy done good comes
through; which, in places is more than a little impressive.

Whilst the tag singer-songwriter is wholly appropriate, I found it difficult not to wonder about the impact that these songs could have with a full band behind them. The gentle repetition as 'Empty House' draws to a close could be used as a sonic assault against the unsuspecting listener if only a little amplification and percussion were applied. The same can be said of 'Beams' which, for all its intricacies begs for more than what it's given. Don't get me wrong, this is a very promising effort-it's just it doesn't exactly leap out at you. Neither lo-fi nor encroaching the loathsome commercial territory that the term singer songwriter has come to inhabit of late.

The songs offered here are solid enough, and in places executed with true grit particularly opener 'Week' yet there is a slight disagreeable element for me in the vocal execution. Sounding very 'now' in terms of London bands there is little passion, this nigh on apathetic vocals do reinforce the lyrical content 'I keep on meaning to do everything..' and offer an insight into an individual feeling the strain and repetition of an increasingly tiresome world, but again this could be done better. That being said for a demo Canvey Island has something under his belt that is more than just talk; whilst you might not necessarily cross the street to watch this bloke play you would certainly strain yourself to get a decent listen on passing. It's certainly going to be interesting to hear the next set of recordings.