Rams Pocket Radio – Trajectories (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
AS Rams Pocket Radio (aka Peter McCauley) puts the finishing touches to his debut album with producer David Kosten (Bat For Lashes, Guillemots), he has decided to serve up a reminder of his talent by releasing his first three EPs as a box set.
Trajectories is therefore a useful barometer of his journey so far, comprising Dieter Rams Has Got The Pocket Radios, Dogs Run in Packs and 1+2.
McCauley himself is a drummer, pianist and diverse songwriter from Lisburn, who has previously enjoyed stints in the National Youth Orchestra of Northern Ireland (as one of the leading percussionists) and in post-hardcore bands.
For his solo material, however, he mixes elements of pounding, piano-based pop with heavier rock and some intelligent lyricism. He leans towards the epic, with comparisons thus far including Frightened Rabbit and even Keane.
Of the tracks worth recommending among the box set, 1+2 is an obvious highlight, combining an insistent piano hook with some layered vocals, a strong chorus and a nagging guitar riff. Lyrically, it charts the dangers of “making yourself vulnerable to help someone, and the things that can happen as a result” and is suitably thought-provoking.
Body And The Sea, meanwhile, is a beautiful piano pop moment that positively shimmers.
The less accessible side to Rams’ is, perhaps evident the 1+2 EP too, with Swallow erring towards the more experimental with its glitchy electronics, or the overly brooding with Love Is A Bitter Thing. Just occasionally, he comes over a little too worthy.
But elsewhere, Dogs Run In Packs once more demonstrates his ability to marry a strong melody with some striking piano chords. The chorus, in particular, is a belter and almost cinematic in scope.
While the early sparsity of You And Me, Babe showcases how McCauley can do and say a lot with very little at his disposal. It’s another song that would do well on a soundtrack, yet is heartfelt in sentiment (“I don’t want to say goodbye”).
Of the tracks on the Dieter Rams Has Got The Pocket Radios EP, the title track successfully combines swirling piano chords with powerful guitars as well as moments of intimacy with the piano-led Friendship Fails You and the stripped back, yet folk-enhanced Souvenir.
But the standout track here is Coal, My Lips Are Sealed.
On the evidence of what we’ve heard so far, the debut album promises to be an interesting listen.
Download picks: 1+2, Body And The Sea, Dogs Run In Packs, Coal, My Lips Are Sealed
Watch the video for Dogs Run In Packs: