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Big Life Desire - Dribs and Drabs

  by Anthony Middleton

published: 5 / 9 / 2008

Big Life Desire - Dribs and Drabs
Label: Platform Records
Format: CD


Whimsical and mild-mannreed, but catchy indiepop from Big Life Desire, the project of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Keith Harbottle

Big Life Desire make well-mannered, likable music. Pop that would give up its seat for a lady and remember to send its distant cousin birthday cards. The mood is one of contemplation and regret. The new album, 'Dribs and Drabs', displays doubt, loss and disappointment. With a smidgen of daydreaming and sentiment thrown in. Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Keith Harbottle is Big Life Desire. Apart from drums and keyboard on two tracks, he wrote and performed the whole album alone. This feels like an individual project rather than collaboration. Perhaps ploughing such a purely pop furrow is easier without others questioning your judgement. Much of 'Dribs and Drabs' is simple in its pleasure. Catchy melodies and well enunciated lyrics make for easy listening. There is a knowing awkwardness to many of the lyrics, deliberately eschewing vagueness or allowing much room for our interpretation. Often these are clumsy or lacking in finesse, but this works as they sound like words that people use, rather than those that have been edited and re-edited. 'Wait', a lovely ballad sung over a simple piano backing, talks of a kiss being “for another day” and that the protagonist will wait “as long as it’s not in vain, as long as we don’t waste time”. You feel that the wait is going to be in vain and he has had a lot of time wasted. Much of the album sits on a foundation of synthesisers which could feel cheap and dated unless you buy into the overall vision of the album. The synths are often thin and remind you of TV ads done on the cheap. There is, however, a depth both in sounds and concept that belies this. “I don’t have a good voice, I can hardly sing,” admits Harbottle in 'Not Supposed To Make Sense'. Indeed. His voice strains to breaking point at the upper reaches of his range and is rarely anything but weak. In other contexts this may just be annoying and fey, here it adds to the air of vulnerability, sensitivity and humour to the songs. We have more than enough over confident, sexually aggressive and arrogant singers around. There’s certainly room for something more human. If Alan Bennett were to dabble in pop, he would probably come up with a ditty like 'So Say I'. Lyrics provided by Keith Harbottles’s recently deceased aunty Alma. She helpfully suggested that voice lessons may give him more confidence. I’m sure Bennett would me more than be happy to have a character called Keith Harbottle singing an album called 'Dribs and Drabs@. Some will find the album too whimsical, but anyone who likes a bit of whimsy in their life, as well as some cracking tunes, will love this.

Track Listing:-
1 Full Of You
2 If Success Came My Way
3 Wait
4 So Inclined
5 Not Supposed To Make Sense
6 The Road Less Travelled
7 After All
8 Someone Is Missing
9 Long Distance Friend
10 So Say I!

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