A Varied and Constantly Surprising Album
Young Newton Faulkner has certainly been at the hand's of a weighty marketing strategy with ads for his debut single, 'Dream Catch Me' appearing all over the TV and internet; for one pleasant but unextraordinary single this seemed rather like overkill, but 'Hand Built By Robots' proves that Newton may have the unique characteristics needed to really make an impact.
The first track proper, 'To The Light' has a message that any listener should head, "Just sit back and let it flow", because the best way to appreciate this mellow and chilled album is just that. There are more breezy ballads in the same vein as 'Dream Catch Me', for example the swelling 'Straight Towards The Sun' which lilts along with a tender melody.
Organic foot stomping and finger clicking percussion of, 'I Need Something' adds a twist of originality to this unremarkable uptempo tune with shimmering backing; with this singer there's always something that captures your attention, even if the tunes themselves may occasionally meander into the average. There's a hint of the psychedelic in, 'U.F.O' a strong tune with a guitar melody that shudders and intertwines with the swinging vocals and buzzing sitars, it's the epitome of the best sides of Newton Faulkner's work and well worth a listen
Else where there's a mixture of straight up mellow indie and slightly reggae imbued numbers, which you'd never guess from the rather generic but luscious sounding, 'Dream Catch You', but as soon as you see Faulkner's dreadlocks, it's clear that he has some rather unusual influences for an indie singer. 'All I Got' for example is a colourful tune with some syncopated rhythms, while 'Gone In The Morning' is a full-on funk stomper. 'She Got Time' is the most all out playful reggae tune with rich vocal harmonies and toe tapping pace. A cover of 'Teardrop' is equally unexpected but takes on a tribal, earthy feel with soothing sighs, while another special touch is 'Sitar-y Thing', which does what it says on the tin, adding a few moments of twanging sitar like a random reverie between tunes.
Newton Faulkner is a fine musician with some great instrumentation backing his pop tunes that redeems them from being mere nuggets of chart fodder. 17 tracks might seem ambitious for a debut, but with some snatches of instrumental added into the mix, the album doesn't feel bloated or repetitive and is a great easy listening record to put on on any occasion.