Isn't it great when bedroom musicians make it big? Daniel Bedingfield notwithstanding, there has been a long lineage of stars who's 4-track demos have landed in the right hands and have propelled them to super-stardom, swapping their bathroom mirror and a shampoo bottle for a headline slot and a microphone. Now, Nathaniel Sutton has not exactly garnered the same success to, say, Mika, who started creating tunes in his parents' attic and through hard work, dedication and not to mention a few outrageous outfits, managed to burn his shrill and chic nursery rhyme melodies into our collective consciousness; nonetheless, Sutton now has a modest record deal and access to a studio, sans parental interruptions.
So, considering the fact that he now has a studio at this fingertips, why is it that he still sounds as if he is recording in his bedroom? It's not that the crystalline melodies on the eponymous opening track are not potentially stadium-sized, it's simply the toned-down, fuzzed up recording of the music that seems to slightly dampen its sound. If the chugging electro-acoustic guitar was replaced by a searing Telecaster, say, or the beautiful, chiming outro was played not on a mildly distorted guitar but on a set of orchestral-drenched synths, then surely he could retain his credibility but bring it to a wider audience?
Perhaps this is not the point. Perhaps Sutton is one of these artists who does not crave commercial success and is happy tinkering away in his studio without attempting to bother the charts or any of his peers. This is a respectable attitude, and one that is all-too-rare in today's accolade-craving world of pop music, however, one can't help but feel that Sutton is not achieving his true potential.
The rest of the album continues the electro-tinged troubadour feel, with almost robotic vocal effects conjuring up peculiar sounds over the deeply personal 'High Holy Day'. Borrowing heavily from Friendly Fires' 'Paris' as to manipulating vast, sound scape intros that hook the listener's attention from the beginning, 'Serious Crime's' epic opening chords hint at something special, before Sutton crawls into a harmonica-accompanied, sped up funeral dirge that showcases uncharacteristically weak lines such as, “You say you've got a headache, well I've got a headache too.”
As Sutton does not vary his musical styles as much as he perhaps should, fifteen songs is far too long for his electro-rock singer-songwriter opus; the tunes begin to blend into one another, in the way that a trance album often feels like one continuous song, yet when the numbers have differing lyrics and story lines, then one soon begins to lose the plot. If Sutton is happy to stick to his bedroom experimenting, then he should be proud of this offering; however, if an aspirational thirst should befall him, then he should consider approaching some big name producers in order to quench it.