Boomkat Product Review:
The first album from Sheffield based artist Duncan Sumpner took us totally by surprise; a gorgeous homespun and impossibly British take on the whole bedroom folk explosion, coming at a time when (weird) America was ready to take over completely. Giving the perfect yang to Animal Collective and Devandra Banhart’s yin, Sumpner pieced together vignettes that sounded like everything and nothing simultaneously, the influences were clear but at the same time he had devised a signature sound which was almost impossible to resist. When that first album was released however it was already a few years old, the tracks were Sumpner’s 4-track demos and as endearing as they were, he had already started work on more wider scale tracks which now appear on this gorgeous seven track collection (they’re long tracks!). Where the first record found itself aligned with the folk movement, "Aerial Days" is more of a shoegazer album made using folk instrumentation. An odd mix maybe, but it’s a mix that really pays off and manages to retain the homespun honesty of folk while conjuring up the atmospheres and dense qualities of classic layered indie. The album begins on a high with ‘Pink by White’, a shimmering slice of dream pop replete with jangling guitars, reverberating vocals and percussion made up of acoustic guitar tapping – what could be more endearing? As Sumpner sings the crushing chorus it reminds me of why I loved guitar music in the first place, the fact that these kind of songs can really touch you. In a world where the humble guitar has been taken as the flagpole of a new My Chemical Romance-worshipping generation of long haired posh buffoons it is refreshing to hear someone doing it ‘right’ and for the right reasons. Okay so ‘Pink by White’ isn’t likely to end up as number one in the UK top 40, but it’s as much a classic pop song as you could possible hope for. This pop aesthetic is only furthered by the quite unexpected cover version of The Beatles’ ‘Dear Prudence’; Sumpner rewires the ‘White Album’ classic, elongating it and drenching it in effects to come up with a glacial beauty of a track, and a great example of how a cover version can really work. Ending on the Ryuichi Sakamoto-esque romance of ‘Brody Jacker’ – apparently a song written in remembrance of a seven year old jacket – we are left in the wake of a truly glorious statement. It’s not going to shout about itself from the rooftops, it’s not all singing and all dancing, but it’s all the better for it – a shy and unforgettable triumph of a record and another fabulous offering from Fat Cat. Huge recommendation!