Richard Warren - Laments
Hamish Gibson 14/07/2010
If there's one thing I hate about music, it's when new bands try desperately to emulate their childhood heroes, which in turn means dating their music back by decades. But if there's one thing I hate more, it's when bands do this, and I find myself not entirely hating it. Richard Warren's debut solo album Laments is a simple composite of music the man is clearly passionate about, but I'm finding it hard to hear anything in it which is noteworthy yet original.
Now don't get me wrong, I've nothing against an artist showing their influences, but when they hide behind them, that's when I have reservations. Laments is made up of sounds from the atmospheric post-punk of later Joy Division, to the anthemic arpeggios of Glasvegas and back again. These are fine influences to have, but the record never really stretches past them. The furthest he goes is with the frantically upbeat 'Nature Boy', probably the LP's highlight, which welds the complexity of Joy Division's instrumentals with the optimism of Blur in their later years.
'Make My Life Right' reminds me all too much of 'Like A Rolling Stone'. In Warren's favour however, if I hadn't previously listened to Dylan then I would have nothing but good words for this particular song. But the lead-ins to the catchy chorus and the filler bridges are just too much of a deja vu for me. 'Fool Killer' sounds like it has potential to give the man a chance to really connect with the listener, but the lyrics are, at points, just plain cringeworthy: “So used to losing, I hope I don't lose you”.
I can't help but feel that Warren is much too sure of what he's done. 'It's a Crying Shame' has the stylings of a man who thinks he's created a masterpiece of diverse tracks. Although it's only fair to point out here that Laments is in fact an amalgamation of five years work. This near-arrogance is heard mainly through the vocals, as the music itself almost cancels it out, but not quite enough.
I feel for Warren, I really do. He's clearly a very talented musician, and in this record he has done all he can to express his innermost emotions. But a severe lack of originality coupled with vocals which are by now frankly outdated (like a young Dylan but not so nasal) stop this from happening. The only song where he gets close is 'Blackstone Empires', a slow piano medley, but even that reeks of plagiarism.
Laments is out on 12 July 2010 on TV Records.