Four Day Hombre: Experiments in Living

Before buying this album I seriously recommend you get hold of a song called "Everything Sounds Like Coldplay Now" by Mitch Benn and the Distractions. It's never more than a quick Google-search away, and it's a tongue-in cheek work of satirical genius that says an awful lot about a certain kind of band emerging at the moment. Four Day Hombre, I believe, are just such a band, and debut album Experiments in Living could easily be construed as nothing more than a watered-down piss-take of every one of Coldplay's least interesting moments (i.e., their entire back catalogue).

Infuriatingly though, just as you do with Coldplay you have to concede that the musicianship on this album is faultless. Intricate guitar parts, beautiful piano arrangements delicately building up to epic, Radiohead-style climaxes; Simon Wainwright's voice has the power to convey fragility, emotion and intelligence problem being, by about track three you realise that it is incapable of conveying anything else. When it becomes apparent that neither variety nor diversity are on the agenda here, the fragility and emotion that made you sit up and take notice at the beginning become artificial and self-indulgent, and you suddenly understand how vast a chasm exists between intelligence and pretentiousness.

This is a shame because, were it not for the vocals you could quite easily lose yourself in the glacial musical soundscapes of this album they're actually seriously impressive, as is the quality of production, but the positive elements are, for me at least, sadly cancelled out by vocals that'd make any self-respecting rock-fan want to beat themselves to death with their own shoes.

This is fundamentally background music: like so many arty/indie/pop bands no individual tracks even stand out as worthy of special mention, mainly because it all very quickly blends into one soporific and hook-free mass. While it's by no means a 'bad' album, the only time it would make any logical sense to sit down and listen to it from start to finish is in a chemically-induced state of mental inertia (preferably at the end of a long evening of heavy drinking, on a day when you split up with your girlfriend, found out your best mate Dave's shagging your dad, you've come home to discover your cat's just run off with next door's Pekinese and your laptop's gone mental and killed all your friends).

And even then, you'll probably find yourself screaming at your stereo "FOR CHRIST'S SAKE GIVE IT SOME BOLLOCKS! ...AND YOU, IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT'S HOLY, DON'T FUCKING SING!"

To be fair there is definitely a place for Experiments in Living, but I would suggest that this place is not in the CD collection of anyone who likes rock music. This is a band who have received much acclaim from their contemporaries, and admittedly it's easy to see why; yes they're 'cool' (if you like that sort of thing), yes they're talented musicians, and yes they're probably going to go far, but at the end of the day, anything resembling a first-rate song is as yet sadly absent from Four Day Hombre's repertoire.