Ceri Frost - Cui
Bill Cummings 23/06/2010
Solo artist Ceri Frost like many other musicians plying their trade in the local area isn't a new name on the Cardiff scene, as a former lead guitarist in The School and one time collaborator and producer for Sweet Baboo his work is forged from experience on stage and in the studio. Last year he provided music for the rather fun award winning animated music videos 'Dead All Along' and 'Manifestations' directed by Giles Timms, from Santa Monica, L.A. Now he steps out on his own for the first time with 'Cui' (a school nickname and a reference to Russian composer Cesar Cui) his debut solo self released album, Cui is a wonderfully satisfying eclectic mix of idiosyncratic 60s inspired guitar pop informed by Frost's sometimes skewed view of the world.
The windingly atmospheric opener 'It All Went Dark' bleeds in to the quirky power pop of 'Dig Way Down' that wouldn't have sounded out of place on Supergrass' 'In it for the Money' album. One of the record's highlights comes early on with the 80s influenced 'R.E.M.F'that's delightfully realised as dabbing synths, twinkling licks, and Frost's melting lovelorn vocal refrains ('run run run away with me') are reminiscent of Darren Hayman of Hefner striding across windswept beaches.
Elsewhere there's quite a Beatles flavour to sections of Cui, but far from being a lazy pastiche, Frost crucially always has a different slant on his influences. So whilst early Mop Top inspired ballad 'Evil Amiele' might not quite of the standard of much here, the mystical shanty harmonies and sun kissed sitar licks of 'She Sells Sea Shells' are like the intriguing meeting point between George Harrison's eastern influenced 'Within Without You' and the psychedelia of Syd Barret era Pink Floyd. While the curious horns and almost Liverpudlian twang of 'Piggy In The Middle' has more in common with the stompy high hat percussion and surrealism of John Lennon penned 'The Benefit of Mr Kite.'
'Afghans and Soviets' is one of my personal highlights, reminding one of Martin Carr and the Boo Radley's sussed fuzz pop, Frost's urgent fast paced run down of political relations between the two countries at the end of the seventies, isn't the likeliest subject matter for a pop song, but the wondrous pace of it all is addictive, swirling harmonies are juxtaposed by a wide eyed pleading chorus 'Dear Judy stay with me some more/And I will Love you' and spiralling guitar lines make for a fist pumping slice of pure pop, tis wonderful! 'Twice As Bad' takes things down a notch or two, a seemingly tender waltzing duet between Frost and Charlie Bull of Little My fame, musically reminiscent of a stripped back Velvet Underground and Nico all glacial guitars, whistling and handclaps, vocally its juxtaposed by the bittersweet: a rather frank love/hate exchange between a pair of on off lovers (Bull: “I'll put my hands around your throat/And then remember that you love it. Frost: It's the only thing I do”) that reminds one more of a long lost Ooberman record. Closer 'Frozen Lake' is almost prog-pop shifting effortlessly from wistful dream like Wickerman-like balladry to sinister whispered voices in your head that turn it into a rocking foot stomping, closer, with huge dirty menacing riffs.
The only criticism one could make of Frost's debut album, is that some may find it a little too in awe of its influences a little too twee in places. But Ceri Frost's first long player 'Cui' is more refreshing than pint of ice cold orange juice after a run around the park with the sun beating down on your back, his effortless knack for at melodies, his deft bittersweet pop songs with wry absurdist twists, make a great big grin break out across my face all day long, which can only be a good thing!