On first listen to Pocketbooks debut album there is one band name that pops into your head that you fear will be haunting this young group for their whole artistic career. This album sounds so much like Belle & Sebastian you wonder if they would have a leg to stand on if taken to court for plagiarizing by a furious Stuart Murdoch. The vocal tune structure is the biggest give away, rising and falling melodies that continue for longer than groups think to try (maybe this is because B&S made it their own), and that steamroll through each song almost pulling the rest of the instruments with it.
The instrumentation is typically twee, and bouncy, with elements of The Smiths in its subtle phrasing.
This is all a bit of a shame because the music is, on occasion, downright beautiful. Opening track ‘Footsteps’ instantly lifts your soul and sends you dancing around the room, while ‘Cross the Line’ has a sincerity that is refreshing and delightful, singing about missing Oyster cards and concerns about a friends hay-fever.
‘Skating on Thin Ice’ has the jaunt of a Randy Newman track and has a bounce that could melt even the coldest hearts.
It could be argued that Pocketbooks couldn’t have arrived at a better time. With Belle & Sebastian on a lengthy sabbatical maybe this is the band that can fill the void. Their strength of songwriting would certainly indicate so and there really is nothing to dislike about any of the tracks on this album. Only time will tell if other bands former glories are enough to do Pocketbooks any damage, or whether they have paved the way for an even brighter star.
Words: Adam Wilkinson