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Four Storeys | Betting On Now (Truck Records)
Reconstructed from the ashes of Britpop band Thurman, Four Storeys are an altogether mellower proposition, forsaking the Glam and bustle for the quiet backroads of Americana. Their website seems to suggest that they came upon this all of their own, as if something called alt.country had never occurred across the ocean. But it has, and British bands wanting to emulate that particular sound are always going to run the risk of being compared to their transatlantic peers. There's nothing particularly wrong with this album but there's nothing to grab you either. Sure, there's a nice harmonica part on Mea Culpa, a sweeping grandiose coda on No Guarantee, some Love inspired ringing guitar work and even, on Outside, a solid funk swagger. But there's nothing at the centre and that's the problem. Alt.country has a strong narrative lyric tradition which Four Storeys forsake for banal, trite and worst of all, vague, lyrics which could have come off a Simply Red or Deacon Blue album. They might be called Four Storeys but amongst the twelve songs here there's not one decent tale to be found. Still Waiting is a nice slab of summery pop in a Teenage Fanclub vein but again there's no real emotional hook to pull you in and lead songwriter Nick Kenny's fey vocals don't help. They say the road to bad music is paved with good intentions and they're probably correct, so while Four Storeys have got the right idea, there's none of the darkness and twisted humour of their American counterparts to make their songs truly engaging. In the end it's all just too nice and polite and music should never be that.
CWAS #7 - Spring 2001