Nicholas Stevenson - The Aeroplane Darling

Rhian Daly 18/08/2010

Rating: 4/5

Having already drawn comparisons with Elliot Smith, the young Nicholas Stevenson is an intriguing concept. American by birth but now resident in England, Stevenson marries influences from both sides of the Atlantic to form heartwarming but dark stories that hint at a fertile imagination, evidenced here on his new EP, The Aeroplane Darling.

On the surface, the five songs present are all delicate and pretty, Stevenson's distinctive and soothing voice leading the laidback guitar strums in making perfect summer lullabies worthy of soundtracking lost afternoons watching clouds float by. It's only when you look a little deeper, listen a little harder at some of them that the wispy softness melts away to reveal a much colder truth - it's a bit tricky to stay so dreamy and chilled when you realise you're listening to tales of being beaten by grandparents ('Little Cages') or a boy's death unfold ('Ernest').

Lead track 'Ernest' isn't what you'd call the cheeriest of songs so what comes next is like aural Prozac in comparison. 'Cambridge', as you might expect, is a romanticised paean to the East Anglian city, brimming with escapism and rose-tinted yearnings for riding bikes and sleeping on floors. It's youthfully naive and gloriously sweet, and sparkling with a charm that's nigh-on irresistible - a common theme throughout the whole of this record.

The thing about Nicholas Stevenson and, indeed, The Aeroplane Darling is there's an aching familiarity deeply resonant throughout. Vocally, there's twinges of Bombay Bicycle Club's Jack Steadman and the lesser-known Ross Witt of My First Tooth whilst musically there's nothing particularly groundbreaking on offer. Although The Aeroplane Darling lacks anything approaching revolutionary, the question here is does that matter? Frankly, with such neat twists and turns, and all-round sticking power, we're inclined to think that maybe it doesn't.