A Surprise Round Every Corner

You know how it is, when a song or album has the effect on you where your life is completely taken over to the point where you almost over play it. The CD doesn't leave your stereo for days and even when you press the stop button and try to concentrate on something vastly more important it bugs your easily distracted brain. At night you find yourself kept awake by the desire to go and press the play button once again and before you know where you are, insomnia kicks in!

There's a track on this debut from Morning Runner that has had that effect on me: and there's several more fighting for the right to do the same.

'Punching Walls' is everything that is great about feel good Indy pop. The most striking thing about it is how it stands out from the rest of the album, it's acoustic style is reminiscent of the sound which was recently adopted by Supergrass, rather than what you might expect if you've heard their previous singles. This song has potential big summer hit written all over it. The only other place on the album where this style is adopted is during the verses of 'The Great Escape'.

Although 'Punching Walls' is uncharacteristic of the rest of the record, it is a great example of how there are surprises round every corner with Morning Runner. At first they seem to be a feel good Indy rock band, with their up lifting tunes and catchy melodies, however there is a darker side to them. Lyrically they touch on issues such as family troubles and horror movies, sometimes difficult subjects which could come as a surprise given the overall package of the band's sound.

Chris Martin is said to rate them as one of his new favourite bands, and on the strength of the opening track alone it is hardly surprising. 'It's Not Like Everyone's Your Friend' has elements of the Coldplay style about it as far as pace and tempo are concerned, but there is one very noticeable difference. There is a much more gritty and raw electric guitar sound, which sets the tone for many tracks on the record.

The next two, 'Have A Good Time' and former single 'Gone Up In Flames', show the heavier rock side of Morning Runner, with 'Burning Benches' reverting back to the Coldplay feel, comparisons have been made to 'Yellow'.

At times the vocals sound a little weak, the opening verse of 'Burning Benches' and the piano based, Embrace like 'Oceans' are where this is most noticeable, and it seems that this is an issue when Matthew Greener tries to do the soft and emotional style of singing, when he belts out choruses or for the bands heavier songs his voice matches the music perfectly.

This is unquestionably a very strong debut album. There is enough rock but also a balanced mixture with the softer stuff; just enough of each to keep the interest level high throughout, and the surprises along the way make for a very rewarding eleven track experience.

I would love Morning Runner to be on the verge of something big. If you include 'Burning Benches' which is due out just ahead of this album, already they have five singles to their name, the anthemmic 'Be All You Want Me To Be' stands up as one of 2005's classics. Add to this support slots with the likes of Coldplay, Bloc Party and Magic Numbers, and lengthy tours in their own right, they've certainly done the ground work to deserve it. There will have to be a lot of brilliant albums released in 2006 for 'Wilderness Is Paradise Now' not to make the end of year shortlists.