Sudanese Playboys – Self-Titled

Sudanese Playboys

London based quintet’s debut self-titled LP is a bright indie-pop affair, opening track Anyhow has a big, wide-eyed sound akin to mid-nineties Cornershop mixing funky percussion with classic rock guitars and vocalist Jamie’s light Paul Heaton-like delivery of the song’s carefree straightforward lyrics.

Raised On Alcohol has a scruffier Elvis Costello and the Attractions-vibe, it’s a tune wrapped around the titular refrain and as a result everything outside of the chorus feels like a little secondary, whilst the chant of the title feels a little dry and disinterested. Bryan McMellan’s drums have a chirpy pop bent on Go, a whimsical The Bluetones-like tune that jogs along at a sprightly pace, whilst Jamie rattles off a succession of twee rhymes; ‘Feels like a fire burning/Wish my head was made for learning.’

Dream feels extremely Cornershop-esque, the verses inparticular seem almost xeroxed from some of Tjinder Singh‘s most chart friendly efforts. However they swim in the same waters with ease and it’s a nice, if derivative, tune nonetheless. Lazy Love‘s laidback psychedelic swagger fares better, with swoonsome Bowie circa Sound And Vision-like backing vocals, it’s the first time on the record where the song’s chorus doesn’t feel like the most integral part, it feels like a whole piece with each element complementing the others nicely, though it’s a shame they chose a fade out for the ending.

There’s a flavour of REM to Sleepy Emily, though its tempered by more brit-pop leanings, but it’s on this track that the standard Sudanese Playboys formula is exposed even moreso, with basic verses giving way to a sing-the-title chorus, throw in a brief guitar solo before a finale sing-a-long and end. Sure, it’s a formula true of many great songs, but it’s repeated to such an extent on this record that you can practically see the music theory notations written in the margin.

Fortunately they shake things up a bit by calling the seventh song > which is kind of hard to vocalise, the track winds up being a summery, lively pop song and makes the most of Mike Lesirge and Ryan Jacobs’ horns on the chorus. It has a somewhat Kula Shaker feel with its anthemic chorus of ‘Can you see what you’ve been missing?’ and its noodling guitar lines. College Classes combines latin-influenced guitars with ska choruses and lyrics that hark back to mid-nineties student life references, it’s a curious mix that probably works better in an enthusiastic live environment but feels a bit hackneyed on record.

Penultimate track Corners begins with some acapella before becoming another so-so pop song, whilst closing track Little Supreme is a tropical sounding muzaky ballad with a supper club croon to the lonely romantic choruses, it’s a commendable change of pace but it doesn’t really work, feeling a little cheesy and insincere.

There’s some stuff to enjoy on this LP, but for the most part there’s a little too much that sounds either derivative of other artists or even just of tracks that have gone before. It’s fine cheerful pop music, but there’s not enough going on across these ten tracks to really recommend.


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