Monday, 12 October 2009

Review - Howie Beck - How To Fall Down In Public

Howie Beck - How To Fall Down In Public

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7 out of 10

It's been five years since Torontonian singer-songwriter Howie Beck's last, self-titled, album, but then again there have always been gaps between his releases. Before 'Howie Beck' in 2004, he hadn't put an album out since the late 1990s, when his songs were turning up in episodes of 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer'. Each wait has always been worth it though, and often long-time collaborator Gonzales is to be thanked for spurring Beck back into action. The electro MC-turned-concert pianist appears frequently on 'How To Fall Down In Public', showing off his skills at the keyboard.

Like former Arab Strab man Malcolm Middleton, Beck has got a reputation for melancholy in his music, but on 'How To Fall Down...' at least, he is capable of producing the most positive and uplifting lyrics and melodies. Even if 'Don't Put Your Arms Around Me No More' is not obviously a cheery number ("You stole everything that I had inside, have you given it all to him?"), its lo-fi orchestral flourishes undoubtedly move the spirit. Equally ambiguous but ultimately positive is the dreamy, jazzy folk of 'Flashover', wherein Beck's soft lilt sounds like Damon Albarn on lines such as, "The saddest sunshine was gone at last/She watched her tears slow-burn through her mask." While before that, 'Watch Out For The Fuzz' has an almost Strokes-like thump to it.

After the sweet instrumental 'Fin', with Beck and Gonzales on guitar and piano, things do turn more melancholic and even laid back - too laid back on closing brace of 'If I Ever Come Home' and 'Beside This Life', where Beck's idiosyncrasies are flattened out into Norah Jones style chill out music. Feist appears on the whimsical 'La La La', but it could be anyone. Only the warm, soulful Americana on 'Over And Under' really stands out on the second half of 'How To Fall Down...', but this is still a little gem from Beck.

Listen: www.myspace.com/howiebeck

Tracklist:
1. Watch Out For The Fuzz
2. Flashover
3. Save Me
4. Don't Put Your Arms Around Me No More
5. Fin
6. Over And Under
7. La La La
8. If I Ever Come Home
9. Beside This Life

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