When ‘Ever Imagine‘ kicks off Dining Alone, it’s easy to summise that Kamran Khan has been listening to an awful lot of White Denim, and while it’s quite feasible that he HAS been listening to a fair amount of the chameleon-like Texans, the truth is that, the further you delve into Dining Alone, everything starts to sound a lot more ‘British’. A nod to Belle and Sebastian here, a wink to Steve Mason there, and even a knowing glance sideways to the early nineties shoegaze scene on the odd occasion, probably Chapterhouse most notably. It’s fair to say that Khan’s love of British culture is all over Dining Alone, whether that be during the wistful virtual hug of ‘Novelty Song‘ (a title that is a real misnomer if I’ve ever heard one!), the cheery, breezy pop of ‘IYDWK‘ or the off kilter but gracious ‘Exotic Bird‘ – a soul warming number that serves as the precursor to the therapeutic catharsis of ‘A Memory‘. Or at least it FEELS like catharsis. It’s one of those albums that you don’t really pay much attention to the lyrics until you’ve played it about five times, simply because the melodies are intriguing enough to pique your interest without having to consider what is actually being said.
Of the album’s title, Khan says: “One of the primary aims of a party is for the guests to achieve a sense of freedom through a joyous union. Sometimes though, it’s in our moments of solitude that we feel the most liberated” and “The act of dining alone is either awkward and embarrassing or honourable and enjoyable, depending on who you ask.” Perhaps the fact that I personally fall into the latter category is a major reason why I felt a connection with these songs, who knows? But when you have songs as strong as ‘The Empty Party‘ amongst your canon (reminiscent of Band Of Horses‘ ‘The Funeral‘, albeit with a more fuzzed up guitar bent), then it’s difficult to imagine that anyone would struggle to love Khan’s music. Just listen to the mesmerising splendour of instrumental ‘Platze‘ and you’ll feel like you’ve been cleansed by the most hygienic waterfall in the world. Don’t hold back. Let it wash over you. Have you done that? Great. Aaaand….relax.
Dining Alone is one of those lazy, hazy soundtracks to a long hot summer, and let’s face it, who doesn’t love that?
Dining Alone is out now on State 51 Conspiracy.