A modern pop swinger with spotless, shimmering production, toy rings and everything laced with some sort of expensive effect, all projecting an unapologetic Snow Patrol vibe that is simplistic and ridiculously pretty. 'Rocky Took a Lover' is completely inoffensive, saturated in honey melodies and is as light and full of substance as diet candy floss. With this in mind, it is clear as the lyrics Brian Crosby sings that these combined ingredients will be best suited to a middle-ground listener, such as one that puts on music whilst on the way to a corporate event, or a student that enjoys an easy ride and wants to feel a ray of sunshine in the middle of a storm, or even mainstream radio. For those that enjoy something slapdash, compelling or challenging, this won't be the wisest of choices.
Incredulously, the main objection to this single is something beyond the band: the selling-point that Island Records unapologetically root themselves in. With the 'adorable' animation aptly named 'Rocky', Island have not just created a look for this single, but an entire world, including a website especially for the little fellow (and seemingly separate from the band!), a leading role in Bell X1's video and god knows what else (thongs?)... So let's get something completely clear. Things like this should be deeply objected by the band and public, as it is merely a shallow ploy from a team of faceless business brains that are thinking of exciting and innovative media to sell an artist and what is already a complete medium (it's a fucking song, man! Why do we need to taint with visual stimuli every time, anyway?). Music should not and does not need an accompaniment of graphics, a video or indeed a cute little strange character bumbling about on his cute little stumps-for-legs. This is the next step of bored music video-makers with new technological toys and demeans the real thing on sale, shrouding it in expensive gadgetry and cartoons with umbrellas poking out their fucking heads. Furthermore, the effort in which is given to all these sparkly little extras makes you think, 'What have they got to hide?' Why are they trying to over-stimulate you with an all-encompassing medium? Could it be that they know their product is boring? Who knows! All that is certain is that to the sceptic or the listener with eyes, it's just too much and is a clear gimmick to shunt their band-brand a head above the others.
But back to the song!
There are Steven Hawking pre-chorus backing vocals immediately bringing thoughts of a Radiohead pumped full of serotonin also to the foreground, with stand-out, doubly recorded lead vocals that are airy and performed with matter-of-fact execution. The lyrics are, admittedly, the fantastic element that pushes the material onward, though again relate directly to a uniformed sound of now, as they are highly sarcastic and study the apparently blasť dimension to relationships.
These bloated en masse sounds all turn their heads to the sun and make you want to chill with your friends in the garden. They'll 'shine for you', but it won't blind you and it won't leave an imprint on the back of your mind. It'll give you a warm feeling in your tummy, but it's so sugary that it may urge you to lock yourself away with a knife and the soundtrack to Requiem for a Dream just to even up the balance.
Check www.bellx1.com for gig dates and www.rockytookalover.com for the lavish adventures of the promotional cute, weird thing.