The Perks Of Being A Hypocrite
Oh the difference a comma makes… in the press release we are assured that Cosmic Crooner draws influences from “classic doowop legends like Frank Sinatra and Lou Reed”. Now, I thought this was part of some kind of subtle Bonzo Dog humour, to go with the obvious pastiche of the project. Further down, the sentence is repeated and the “like” is replaced with a comma and everything seems a little bit less fun.
Where do people find the time? And the money? To produce pastiche in this fairly grand style? What am I missing here? That it’s not meant to be pastiche, I think. So more fool me. The man, who is Dutch, apparently, Mr Crooner, I mean, probably means it. By ‘it’, I mean a series of retro influences that, separately, make a sort of daytime hipster cafe playlist, but, merged together, here on an album, present a kind of pub quiz challenge. 10CC doing their Beatles tribute. A snippet of French 1960s pop and a flimsy Scott Walker. Beatle George gone solo. That’s me being kind.
Unkind would be noting that, despite the influences worn in the press release like Shoreditch badges, what it sounds closest to is the various attempts, from, say Paul Haig in the 1980s, to Divine Comedy and a fair few others in the 1990s failing to nail the moment when Tony Christie sang Avenues and Alleyways for the theme tune to the TV show featuring those other bewigged and be-whisky-ed old farts Tony Curtis and Roger Moore (The Persuaders - as if they ever persuaded anyone to do anything more radical than give them a TV series mainly set in the south of France) or when Richard Harris acted MacArthur Park into the top ten.
Cos’ has a pleasant enough voice, closer to the classic singer songwriter styles of the likes of Randy Newman than any actual crooners, who tended to have real chops. And the arrangements and production never really challenge his voice to do anything more than sit on top of them, a lightweight child on a whoopy cushion that won’t fart. Which might seem a bit too unkind. Who deserves that? Be nice, Tim. I’m afraid I'm not inclined to be kind, i think, because, sometimes, influences are stated as a kind of smoke screen and you better be careful when you cite Lou Reed, Sinatra, The Ronettes, Roy Orbinson, Jacques Brel, Marvin Gaye and Caetano Veloso and then the smoke clears and you sound like Neil Hannon.