The Footage - The Summit Of Mount Everest Is Marine Limestone
Owain Paciuszko 30/04/2010
Opening with a largely acapella vocal soundscape, The Blue Handshake makes things sound like Bobby McFerrin in wistful mode, but after this brief ninety four second intro track segues into Down To Lie there's a more straight-forward post-rock vibe to be mined.
This London based quintet have a sound similar to when The Clash discovered world music, the lazy patterns of Thing Is are very familiar and the production mutes things behind a fog stopping any of the instrumentation or backing vocals from having much of a presence beyond Toby Brack's vocal. Things transition into slow ballad The Sky That Wasn't God where things go almost Take That; listen to the soft backing vocals, they sound oddly close to Back For Good. The presence, that crops up on a few tracks, of strings lends a little something here and there.
Juggling vocals between Brack and Tom Joyce perks up Reminiscence On Behalf Of The Species, which throws in a few erratic asides alongside a more refined guitar-pop sound than previous tracks; but there's not enough meat on the bones for a listener to really get their aural teeth into and the track, for the most part, is content to potter along one track before fading out to an end. Elsewhere Everest which should be as epic as the title suggests flounders with a lack of passion to its 'Ain't no mountain high enough...' chorus and an insipid background of intermingled acoustic pop in a latter Starsailor mold.
There are some great, wry lyrics in The Hampstead Blues; 'Oh, he looks so dead/A face down on his bed/That's because he's dead.' and 'My psychiatrist seems to have missed the plain fact that I'm mad.' being particularly witty stand-outs; alas the song they inhabit doesn't match the tone of these humourous remarks, falling into the same trappings of all that's gone before - except the opening track. What's most dispiriting though, as the record continues, is that a band capable of some nice string arrangments, interesting occasional use of backing vocals and intermittently smart lyrics can write a song as utterly awful and embarassing as Night Seriously.
The lasting feeling at the end of this record is that perhaps The Footage weren't quite ready to tackle an LP, there's a lot of excess flab here and though they've had a handful of EPs prior to this, this record feels half-baked with most songs fading out into fast forgotten oblivion. There's a current of intelligence under-pinning some of what's here, but it's buried beneath the flaws, resulting in a disappointing and tedious release.