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Antiqcool - Songs of Hope and Despair

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 31 / 3 / 2008

Antiqcool - Songs of Hope and Despair
Label: Sick Note Records
Format: CD


Perfectly produced and composed, but somewhat monotonous second album of Beach Boys-inspired pop from British band, Antiqcool

To quote in full as it made me smile which isn’t such an easy thing to do in the middle of yet another stormy day this extended winter, this is what is written on the back of the CD booklet, “This album was recorded, produced and mastered on a tight budget by Antiqcool at Shoestring Studios and released through Sicknote Records”. This, apart from making me smile also made me wonder how the hell something so seemingly well produced, sung, played and composed could be made on a tight budget. Despite my best efforts I can’t find out too much information on Antiqcool either ; it would appear that the songs are written by a nameless singer/songwriter who doesn’t seem too keen to release so many details about who played on the album and if the songs are the result of collaborations with others or composed solo. What I do know is that this is the second album under the name of Antiqcool and that despite the claims that it was made on a tight budget you would never know it from these thirteen songs. The sounds of the Beach Boys are all over this album, as are those bands who have taken inspiration from Brian Wilson and co., the High Llamas, the Pearlfishers; you get the idea. ‘Just Another Groove On A Forty Five’ is, apart from a fantastic title, a dream set to music, something to drift away to, to take you away from all the darkness surrounding you right now and transport you to somewhere warm, sunny and light where the sound of that gently picked guitar just goes round and round in your head. Nearly six and a half minutes of pure bliss. At times the songs do tend to melt into each other. The mellowness that initially is one of the major attractions does tend to wear a little thin over the thirteen songs and while it gives value for money all the songs are quite lengthy for this type of music. The three shortest tunes all clock in at just under four minutes and two of them are pushing seven minutes long. With a little more variety maybe with another singer taking lead on a few songs a lot more texture would have been shown on the album. For the most part the lead vocals are so smooth that they barely rise above a whisper on some songs. It’s almost like too much of a good thing. For those of us that like to chill out to songs that have their origins in the melodic pop of the 60's and 70's then ‘Songs Of Hope And Despair’ is, taken in small doses, a perfect way to spend some time while dreaming of those brighter times to come but for every person who finds comfort in these laid-back sounds there will be another who will find the sameness of the songs boring after the first three or four songs. The shame is that the songs are there, the playing is faultless and even the production, especially if it was done on a tight budget, is perfect. Whoever composed the tunes certainly has some of the best melodies floating around in their head but at the end of the day, despite all that and the fact that there are some fantastic guitar lines that really should be heard by a wider audience than they are going to be, it’s the vocals that let the collection down. There is nothing wrong with them. In fact that might well be part of the problem as in their own way they are maybe too perfect and too smooth to take in one sitting. I just know that as spring turns into summer this album will be played more and more as I drive the car and I’m going to change my mind and appreciate those mellow vocals in time and want to rewrite this review because even though those guitar solos are right now getting to me more with each play it’s the vocals that stop this album from being a great collection of songs rather than merely the good album it is.

Track Listing:-
1 Englishman Out in the Midday Sun
2 Vows Were Made of Glass
3 Just Another Groove On a Forty Five
4 Pearl
5 How Much More of This
6 I Can See Where You Are Coming From
7 I'm Getting Love
8 We Are All Doing Time in a Minefield
9 Got to Make That Call
10 A Leaf That Is Born of a Tree
11 Could This Be You and I
12 Just a Little Too Late
13 My Avatar

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