Newton Faulkner: Studio Zoo – review


Like Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson, this Surrey singer/guitarist makes laidback amiability his calling card, and has thereby reaped two of the most ignorable No 1 albums of recent years. Studio Zoo is a lesson in why Faulkner needs to start playing against type; rather than swaddling every song in layers of delicately picked guitar, he should have found his inner wildebeest and let it roar. There's plenty of disquiet in the lyrics – Faulkner is forever fretting and apologising for his very existence, to the point of telling his girlfriend, on At the Seams: "As if your life wasn't hard enough, you chose me." Had he stopped burying the emotions under passive-aggressive sweetness and let his voice ratchet up a few notches, this could have been an interesting album. The place to start would have been the aptly titled opener, Where to Start, in which José Gonzálezish dream-pop strumming damps down the frustration of romantic disappointment. "I'm tired of love, don't need nobody," he murmurs. Fine, now say it like you mean it.


Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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