How Big How Blue How Beautiful
In the week that Morrissey returns to form with a tremendous album, it's worth noting that pop has always harboured driven eccentrics.
Josh Record certainly falls into that category. In his 26 years on the planet to date, the Gloucestershire-born singer-songwriter has attended the Brit School, run a community music studio for underprivileged kids in London, undertaken numerous charity-work trips to Kenya, driven from London to Turkey and from New York to Alaska in a minibus… and made this album.
His music tastes are similarly wide-ranging, from his childhood veneration of The Beach Boys via a church-going upbringing steeped in choral music to a later love of the chaste pastorals of Bon Iver. All of these elements can be heard in this uneven, fitful but undeniably intriguing offering.
Such an aggregation of influences certainly makes this more than standard singer-songwriter fodder. Record is clearly a one-off: his yearning, pristine vocal and hymnal arrangements on tracks like recent single Bones, much loved of Radio 1's reliably excitable Zane Lowe, seem to verge on the sacred.
His productions and melodies are strong and memorable, but still there is much that grates. Pictures In The Dark is a lovely blanched pop song worthy of Fleet Foxes but Wide Awake and Find Her Way To Me are as saccharine as any atrocity ever committed by Boyzone, and his excruciatingly banal lyrics merely fill the gaps between the notes: "I need something to set me on fire" he coos, deeply unconvincingly, on soporific ballad Bed of Thorns.
It's a valiant debut, then – but ultimately Pillars just has too much careful good taste and too little flavour.