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A review of...
Restless Legs by Baker Island
Restless Legs is the second album from Baker Island, a recording project of Newcastle's Sean Dodds which has gradually morphed into a real life "proper band". Said band now comprises Dodds (guitar and vocals), Kev Raijah (guitar), Cathy Russell (bass), Chris Perriman (keys) and Matt Hayward (drums) and they are becoming adept at making noisy pop songs. Their debut album Bobby Hundreds was a nice blast of youthful enthusiasm but Restless Legs seems far more assured, whilst remaining ever so slightly unstable. There's plenty of punchy and positive melodies which are often combined with contrasting down-trodden lyrics ("City Maps" is perhaps the exception to this rule, being down-trodden both musically and lyrically).
Opening track "Fourth Wall" has the jittery rawness of much missed local trailblazers The Futureheads and it sets the stall for the rest of the album. By track 2, the humourously titled "Doomed Howard" the band are in top gear, tearing through a song with goes from C86 indie to thoroughly unsubtle anthem via a delightful bass and harmonising guitar break in a concise three minutes. This sort of thing is what makes Baker Island such an interesting prospect and a difficult band to pin down to a particular scene or genre (for more than a couple of minutes anyway). The production is dense, with vocals and occasional blasts of keys battling to be heard amongst the walls of guitar, but that all adds to the feel of the record, and what is becoming Baker Island's hallmark sound.
Elsewhere there's the short but sweet "Batman" which includes a melody that harks back to Bowie's "Kooks". Does it sound like anyone else, from a more recent era of music I hear you ask? Well yeah! I also heard favourable glimpses of Let's Wrestle and Los Campesinos mixed with elements of 90s British rock (e.g. The Wildhearts). But surprisingly this record also contains some lighter, almost folksy elements such as the descriptively titled Lo-Fi bedroom ballad "Acoustic" or the gorgeous touches of melodica on "Lungbarrow". It all makes for a nicely balanced album, keeping the listener's ears pricked rather than bombarding them with constant waves of poppy punk noise. Keep an eye on Baker Island, I predict that they've got a lot more in the tank.