Royston Vince - London Nights

Thomas 17/01/2008

Rating: 2/5

First of all, what a name. Royston Vince. Bloody marvellous. Apart from the obvious hint of a League of Gentlemen/Chubby Brown connection, isn't it just the perfect moniker for some tough Seventies East End TV detective? (cuffing a struggling criminal, leering into his face) “D.I. Royston Vince. You're nicked, you shlaaag!”

But to the music, yes, the music. It's a concept album, is 'Laaahndan Nights' (I'll stop now), with track titles named after parts of the city, and the music one naturally assumes is meant to correspond, at least evoking some related sense of place or feeling. The medium used is mainly a mixture of electronica and ambient sounds, with a few found noises or samples thrown in for good measure. But herein lies the problem. The vast majority of the synthesisers and drums sound horribly cheap and dated, and make other electronica acts such as Four Tet sound positively light years ahead. No one can doubt the composer's good intentions in making his second release such an ambitious project, but with the state of the tools being used it's like trying to copy a Constable with a vegetable.

So sadly, the album evokes next to nothing, except for the image of it being knocked up in someone's home studio. The sound of dripping water runs through 'Behind the Light' to predictably irritating effect , while 'Dockland Echoes', buried at track six, is just heavy handed, plastic-sounding ambient nonsense that should never have made it onto the record at all.

Still, a mention for the standout 'By Way of Kensal Green', a moody piano number of some quality that sticks out like Liam Gallagher in a Soho gay bar. Closer 'Home' isn't bad either, built around sensitive acoustic guitar, it actually feels like waking up on a Saturday morning in your own pad, making a cuppa and all being well with the world - until those cursed keyboards stagger in and piss on the floor like an unwelcome tramp. Roy, if you're reading, upgrade the kit, edit more ruthlessly and you could be onto something. But in 2008, as boundaries itch to be pushed, this simply doesn't make the grade.