I don't know if it's just me, but when Paul Hawkins and his Awkward Silences picked the track list for Apologies to the Enlightenment, they really dropped a serious clanger. Track one - The Beasts in the Upstairs Bedroom - is a sprawling and cacophonous mess of a song. It never really goes anywhere and it starts the album off on entirely the wrong foot.
What happens after this disappointing start is that the curtain falls and this failed attempt at being epic gives way to some brilliant folk/art/pop. A song like Stop Making a Scene has the potential to be a really accessible pop song.
But that's this album's main problem. It has moments of potential but never really breaks through and shines in its own right. Monkey Serum and I'm In Love With a Hospital Receptionist both have witty and clever lyrics, but you feel that had they sat down and re-drafted them once or twice - just put a little bit more time and effort in, these could have been really special songs.
There is however, a massive elephant in the room here, which I should perhaps address, and that is the voice of Paul Hawkins. You will either love it or hate it. For me personally, the slightly tuneless Irish rasp grates and ruins a lot of the songs on this album. With almost anybody else on lead vocals I think I'm in Love with a Hospital Receptionist could have been my single of the year, but the voice kills it for me. Sorry.
To wrap this one up then, Apologies to the Enlightenment is either an album of potential that has brief moments to shine, or a musical statement of such genius that it has gone way over my head and I just don't get it. Either way, it' is definitely at odds with anything else I've heard recently.or ever, for that matter.