The Proclaimers - Notes and Rhymes
Paul Cook 16/06/2009
In no way my forte, reviewing the uncluttered, gentle quitar melodies which make up the The Proclaimers' latest album Notes and Rhymes is difficult to assess on merit. It's just nice. Nothing too 'out there' and nothing too dull, to re-use a Mark Kermode expression, it's “remarkably unremarkable.”
The opening, title track Notes and Rhymes is an upbeat, undeniably Scottish take on traditional country music. Is this how the The Proclaimers have always gone about things? The production on their records has certainly improved over the years, with this track full of jazzy trumpet stabs and honky tonk piano and walking basslines. Powerful ballad Love Can Move Mountains follows before a quintuple helping of slow, mellow acoustic numbers change the tone quite drastically.
Just Look Now is a high point with it's soaring chorus and It's So Easy to Find an Unhappy Woman is most definitely a low point. Not only because of its reminiscent sound of Conway Twitty (see Family Guy) but also its confusingly romantic (?) yet depressing subject matter. It's not until eight tracks in with I Know that you reach the catchy, up tempo style that makes the album listenable.
Free Market is vocally very enjoyable. However a Scottish accent with aloha-styled ukulele is not a match made in heaven. Also, the loss of the dual vocals in certain songs including this makes what used to be a notable Scottish duo, identical twins at that, a very simplistic acoustic record at times. Novelty value has unfortunately run out leaving two amply talented singer songwriters overshadowed by the stronger-than-ever and constantly growing folk pop market.