Review by Jack Foley
THIS one's difficult to put your finger on and describe as belonging to any
sort of music genre really. My Computer are a musical duo who hail from Manchester,
who have been signed on to David Holmes's 13 Amp Recordings label and are
managed by Shaun Ryder's dad, Derek, who first asked them to write music for
a local low-budget movie, called Detox.
The resulting collaboration takes in a whole range of musical influences - from the electronica-influenced likes of Daft Punk, to the whiny lyrical style of Radiohead, the sweeping piano rock of Queen and the big beats of The Prodigy - to deliver the type of album which surprises by its diversity.
And whatever you may ultimately think of the musical rollercoaster ride it takes you on, you can't help but admire it for having the balls to be different - even though the hits and misses are present in equal measure.
Beginning with the vast, nine-minute plus All I Ever Really Wanted Was A Good Time - which encapsulates the dizzying fusion of musical styles throughout the album, cutting from laidback beats to piano-led ballad, before exploding back to awesome beats - the album then takes a misstep with More To Life and Rope, before hitting top gear again with Vulnerabilia - an acoustically driven slice of electronica which is genuinely feelgood despite some downbeat lyrics. Indeed, Vulnerabilia is the type of track which could (and should) make a big impression on the charts, while also finding a place for itself on the likes of Jon Kennedy's Exposure (on Xfm). It is that rare type of track, a crossover.
Fill My Cup combines a laidback beat with all manner of backing instruments and some lazy, druggy lyrics, which exist to get stoned to, while evoking memories of latter-day Radiohead (from the OK Computer era), but Majic Flat is a full-on dancefloor anthem, featuring the type of chorus The Who would have been proud to deliver if they switched from rock to electronica. That said, it is far too Ibiza-orientated in focus to be truly rewarding and seems designed to appeal to the Cream crowd.
After the highs of Majic Flat, however, it's back to semi-chilled for the partly acoustically-driven For Somebody Else, and its feel-bad lyrics, before they give way to another full-on headbanger (the same song), which drifts into a noisy mess. It is a track that best epitomises all that is good and bad about the album - as it is overly prone to excesses which don't always work as they should.
Indeed, Vulnerabilia cannot be described as an easy listen. It's constant capacity to surprise renders it something you always have to take notice of - whether it be to acknowledge some of the beats and musical loops being delivered or, more simply, to reach for the skip button.
Yet for every moment of headache-inducing loudness, there are also those of exquisite beauty, such as the soothing No More Dealing, with its gentle guitar strands and its gritty yet seductive vocals. This is one of the best tracks on the album and one which actually sticks to a formula.
Elsewhere, vocalist Chesy gets found out on I Don't Care How You Treat Me, which goes from whiny lament to none-too-good drum 'n' bass, and is all the worse for it. There are several occasions when his vocals don't feel up to the task, or suited to the type of beat laid down around it.
A mixed bag, then, but one worth delving into - even if the rewards aren't always what you think. As debuts go, this is intriguing more than inspired, but it has got the music press listening and could mark My Computer as a talent to watch for the future.
1. All I Ever Really Wanted Was a Good Time
2. More To Life
5. Fill My Cup
6. Majic Flat
7. For Somebody Else
8. No More Dealing
9. There Are Ways
10. I Don't Care How You Treat Me
11. If You Dare