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Vagabond - You Don't Know The Half Of It

Vagabond, You Don't Know The Half Of It

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

VAGABOND pulled off something of a coup when they persuaded pop producers Xenomania to help produce their album. But anyone expecting a boy band to rival Girls Aloud had best think twice.

Fronted by Alex Vargas, Vagabond are a band that have more in common with Maroon 5 and Simply Red than all-girl pop acts, and it’s an equally notable re-direction for Xenomania to be part of the album.

Whether it works in either acts favour is a different point entirely. You Don’t Know The Half Of It is only a halfway successful debut album from Vagabond. It has some great moments, but also some ordinary ones too.

Album opener and former single Don’t Wanna Run No More is a strong start, taking the form of a gospel-edged, soulful track that’s delivered with real meaning. It has elements of Maroon 5 and even The Fray in the way that it effortlessly floats into your sub-conscious as all good power ballads do. But it’s a useful marker to have laid down as an introduction.

Sadly, it’s follow-up Ladelle isn’t quite so good, relying on the blend of soul and funk that Simply Red used to trade on, while Ladelle is fairly wishy-washy too.

Just when you fear that Vagabond have settled into an album long routine, however, they drop I’ve Been Wanting You, which trades the funk for synth-pop and really makes the most of Xenomania’s presence. It’s an uptempo offering and a bit of a surprise… though not necessarily one of the best album tracks.

I Said Hello changes pace again, stretching Vargas from trademark husky to falsetto and drawing further comparisons with the style of Maroon 5, albeit with a stronger emphasis on pop. While another album highlight, Sweat (Until The Morning), cruises by on an extremely smooth vibe, courtesy of the slick beats, soulful synths and husky yet commanding vocals.

Thereafter, Smile of Mona Lisa is a dusky, bluesy offering that makes for decent mood ballad, Drifting combines another bluesy vibe with a trip-hop like back-beat to offer another highlight, and You Talk To Me ends things on a moody, chilled vibe that shows they know how to work up the ballad moments to optimum effect.

In between, there’s a surprisingly cheesy couple of pop-stoppers – one of which (I Hope You Know Better) grates, the other (Clouded Circus) of which gets your feet shuffling along in spite of yourself.

The overall result? Good but not great. Vagabond have plenty in their arsenal and are nothing if not diverse. But the album could do with a greater consistency in quality, as this only really impresses in fits and starts.

Download picks: Don’t Wanna Run No More, I Said Hello, Sweat (Until The Morning), Drifting

Track listing:

  1. Sweat (Until The Morning)
  2. Don’t Wanna Run No More
  3. I Know A Girl
  4. I’ve Been Wanting You
  5. Ladelle
  6. Smile Of Mona Lisa
  7. I Said Hello
  8. I Hope You Know Better
  9. Clouded Circus
  10. Drifting
  11. You Talk To Me