Review of Lawrence Arabia's album Chant Darling
The cover of Chant Darling, in correspondence with James Milne's stage name, paints him an intrepid explorer of a bleak landscape. Unsurprising really, as Milne's native New Zealand is literally half a world away from Western Civilisation. What is surprising then, is the sunshine-soaked happiness which dominates Chant Darling, an homage to that completely unforgotten era of sixties pop.
The barefaced enthusiasm of songs such as 'Apple Pie Bed' holds a similar woozy, Beach Boys affectation to that of Belle and Sebastian. It's certainly dangerously infectious, but rather like the shiny happy Scots, it can be a little cloying after a time. If this can at all be interpreted as a criticism, perhaps in places it suffers from being just too note-perfect? It doesn't hold the same endearing charm of say, Jonathan Richman - certainly someone who Milne wishes to emulate here.
Second track' The Undesirables' is one of the only songs to betray something a little more melancholy underneath Chant Darling's breezy exterior. Closer 'Dream Teacher' too, hints that there may be more to Lawrence Arabia than a collection of Brian Wilson records. Chant Darling is saved somewhat by his wry sense of humour, but next time it would be nicer to see more of the vulnerable side of Lawrence Arabia rather than just his big cheesy grin.