Review of Andrew Vincent's album Rotten Pear released through Kelp Records.
Canada's one time 'proponent' of the much romanticised practice of nautical theft has left his band mates (Or should that be ship mates?) behind to re-embark upon his solo career. For Andrew Vincent, formerly of Andrew Vincent & The Pirates, this will be his fifth album. Rotten Pear is the follow up to 2004's group effort 'I Love The Modern Way'. If you were expecting more of the bands rockier energy you may be disappointed. In Andrew's own words 'It's soft acoustics with a dash of synth'. However this does not quite tell the full story as there are some great surprises to be found along the way.
The album was recorded mainly at Andrews house with the help of his collaborator, and producer, Jarrett Bartlett. The intention to give it a 'home made feel', with 'heartfelt Canadian Handicraft' may sound a little twee but on the whole it works very nicely. Having spent most of the last decade in Ottawa, where he feels most 'at home' Andrew now resides in Toronto where he has also spent time doing his PhD in Communication And Culture. This may explain the fabulous way in which Andrew has been able to impart some neatly related pieces of social observation into his lyrics.
Having made no secret of his musical influences, such as Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers as well as The Velvet Underground, you'd be a little disappointed if you didn't hear some of that sound resonating through, so, thankfully you wont be disappointed. There's a lot more going on in here besides that though. We have on at least three tracks, starting with 'Nobody Else', a very early eighties pop/rock vibe the likes of Tom Petty/The Cars & Split Enz would have easily put their name to. 'Fooled Again' (And 'Ruffian' to a far lesser degree) have an air of the Billy Bragg about them, it even reminded me of seeing Billy stood atop his milk bottle crate during his first performance on The Tube, until that is the drums kick in for the last fifth of Andrew's track. It goes a bit John Cougar/Dire Straits on Diane with his tired and cynical outlook urging 'hurry up and finish that record and I'll see you on the OC'. On 'Under Your Thumb' the tempo quickens and we are treated to a Canadian 'Primitives' performance that would be fit to grace many a teen movie......
'Friday night down at the 'Stop & Shop',
listening to the kids and the things that they talk,
They say they wanna fight, they wanna f... and they wanna get high.
I think of you and wonder what your doing later tonight.
'Cos if you wanna go, I wanna come,
I just wanna be under your thumb.'
'Canadian Dream', a song being supported (tongue in cheek, I think!) as 'Most Canadian Song' could be semi-autobiographical for Vincent, with it's student tales of not getting up before noon, smoking in your room and the school sucking but not the parties, and, how you've seen so much that now 'Even Montreal seems boring'. The title track 'Rotten Pear' is a truly individual piece of work which once again showcases Andrew's love of the accordion, at the same time as highlighting how difficult it can be to develop a catchy beat and rhythm on the instrument. Finally, to close the whole album out, we have a brave attempt at a cover of Kate Bush's 'Hounds Of Love'. Like The Futureheads before him, Andrew Vincent has obviously seen an opportunity to add his 'flavour' to a very individual song. I fear he may have been a little too brave as removing the main body of the original song, the drums, leaves the song a little hollow. The synth treatment is good it's just a shame not to have seen it used to a greater degree before now. It'll probably get him noticed where he wouldn't ordinarily, and it may bring with it some much needed exposure and airplay, but I'll be sticking with the original all the same.
Andrew Vincent starts a small UK tour in London on 23rd of January to help promote the European release of his new album 'Rotton Pear', due out on the 18th of this month. Of the album he says 'Ultimately Rotten Pear is an optimistic record. The album's about growing up, growing older and experiencing a change in perspective.'