April 08, 2010

State of Undress
Livin’ It, Lovin’ It
Rosebud Music

A raggle taggle consortium of sound not a hundred miles removed from that of an over zealous Steelye Span meets B-side Waterboys, this 2009 release by State of Undress, strikes one as being a mere tip of the band’s rich musical potential. Reason being, there may be snippets of poise and promise at play here, but an underlying quality that the five-piece have overwrought themselves is, unfortunately, a tad more pronounced.

The opening track ‘One More Shot (of you boy)’ sounds as if two different bands are playing the same track; which, although on occasion do (perhaps by accident) converge, ultimately end up chasing one anther’s tale. Were it not for the underlying glue like quality of Samantha Jane’s pizzicato violin, one wouldn’t really know who or what to listen to. And while there’s a definite Steve Wickham influence at play throughout ‘Plenty More Fish in the Sea’ – worth mentioning, purely as a result of the texture and sheer amount of reverb utilised during Wickhams’s stint with ye Waterboys during their spurious Irish period, was at the time, as indicative of their sound as that of Mike Scott. Although in this instance, a rather lacklustre performance by the band as a whole, doesn’t do the song itself any favours.

It’s not until one reaches the strongest song on the album ‘Mudeford Mood’ (cool title), that things begin to quintessentially sparkle. Replete with a more considered arrangement, which, among other things, includes what sounds like looped bongos and an altogether intelligent, refreshing chord structure, it’s a song which leaves the remaining others basking in its shadow. That said, were it to have ended at two and a half minutes (rather than 4:24) it would have been even stronger.

In all, these seven songs are more akin to that of a collection of demos. Whilst showing promise, Livin It, Lovin It! doesn’t truly hit the mark of a genre that, although transiently saturated with the likes of Fairport Convention, Hothouse Flowers, Waterboys et al, remains an idiom whereby musical prowess and understanding, is still as integral as playing from the heart.

David Marx


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