As a fat lady once said:
Keen not to be tagged as 'folktronica' (and let's be honest, who would be keen?), James Yuill instead lists Nick Drake, Radiohead, Chemical Brothers and Aphex Twin as key influences. Good job fella.
Although this is his first single, Yuill has two self-released albums behind him - 2005's 'The Vanilla Disk' and last year's 'Turning Down Water For Air' - and this writing and producing experience is definitely felt both on 'No Surprise' and its B-side 'The Ghost'.
The former is a quite beautiful conflagration of acoustic guitar, heart-beat-monitor hooks, an exquisite xylophone (who cares whether it's real or not) and hard-thumping beats. I know what you're thinking: it must sound like the musical equivalent of a smoothie comprised of meat pies, oysters, GM maize and ecstasy tablets. You're wrong - it sounds fucking great.
Lyrically it's as muddy as the banks of the Wishkah - as dark as Bourneville and miserable as Jack Dee's wake - yet there's a palpable ribbon of hope weaving its way through the forest of melancholic furs - as if Yuill knows that it'll all come good in the end.
But as good as 'No Surprise' is, it doesn't hold a candle - nay, a Swan Vesta - to the lush, seductive sorrow of 'The Ghost'.
Although you'd be forgiven for experiencing trepidation when hit with the opening lyrics 'When will I see my children lying in my arms', (and God knows, I might have once agreed with you - or maybe I still do - who the fuck knows), 'The Ghost' can be deconstructed in a multitude of ways. Perhaps it's an ode to a lost love; perhaps an accusatory diatribe aimed at a former lover; perhaps a soul-searching personal self-critical harangue - or maybe it's meant to be all these things - because let's face it - relationships are never simple or easy and nor is life.
I am sure of one thing at least. Both songs featured on this limited 7" are by far the most noteworthy that I've heard this year. Track James Yuill down.