Brighton quintet The Tenderfoot deliver an evocative and intelligent debut bathed in a tranquil and practically horizontal approach to writing. Not a party album then, more an album to mope and soothe the ache and pain of a night on the razz.
Album opener â€˜Waking me up againâ€™ is a haunting tale of woe and regret married with a light-hearted undercurrent that keeps the track above water. At times dipping into depression the Tenderfoot are not adverse to the negativity and mundanity of life but dwell little, quashing gloom with observational satire. Forthcoming single â€˜Cowbell Bluesâ€™ (laden with the shit clank of a cowbell) is an attempt at pop majesty, but instead falls pretty flat, a shifty character that will inevitably distort perception of the band.
From the laidback slide tones to the swirling keyboard fade â€˜Still Holding My Stomach inâ€™ oozes quality and displays the liquid groove capabilities of The Tenderfoot. â€œRipping cones to the Rolling Stonesâ€ immediately strikes chords with student mentality and the delayed abjection of entering a world full of big business. The following garble about â€œpaying duesâ€ and â€œjoining the unionâ€ is enough to repulse any graduate into the comfy womb of education. But like a rainy day Super Furry thereâ€™s a happy undercurrent that belies the tempo and bursts through each ditty.
â€˜Bugsyâ€™s Lamentâ€™ is a shanty twinged Coralesque trip that happily saunters alongside the heavier latter part of the album. 'To know a Ceiling well' ushers in a little distortion and a thunderous beat (in the most relaxed Tenderfoot way), and when matched to enchanting harmonies it lifts the band and the listener onto glorious plateaus of squelchy noises and horns. Penultimate track 'The Last One-Two' further delves into riotous soundscapes but maintains the measured beauty slipping somewhere between Elbowâ€™s best efforts and an anthemic Doves track. 'You Stopped Letting me Hold your Hand' caps off a promising debut with a jaunty Britpop affair not unsimilar to HMS fable era Shack.
The Tenderfoot have evidently produced a debut thatâ€™s both beautiful and charming in equal measures, something thatâ€™s becoming increasingly scarce in the 80â€™s obsessed Uk music scene, for this they should be cherished and applauded.