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Twin Princess | The Complete Recordings (Hidden Agenda)
Q: Is that the bottom of a barrel I hear being scraped? A: No, something far less tuneful. I'd have laughed if it hadn't cost me twelve quid. Save your sympathy, as a completist I deserve all I get. The very mention of the name Ken Stringfellow on a sleeve will have me hurtling towards the cash register in something approaching a state of excitement. Fortunately, Stringfellow being the fine songsmith that he is, such enthusiasm is frequently rewarded with another inspirational addition to his/my not unimpressive catalogue/collection. Here our Ken plays second fiddle to one Bootsy Holler, sensibly masquerading under his 'Kickstand' alter-ego providing a suitably lo-fi accompaniment on guitar, bass, 'keyed instruments' and synthetic beats. It's a set-up much in evidence on his angst-ridden solo record This Sounds Like Goodbye but, whereas that record's underplayed backdrop was juxtaposed with Stringfellow's chillingly intense vocal, the far less expressive Holler doesn't have the required spark to make much of a pretty dull bunch of tunes. The one track destined for the mix-tape is the twisted take on Something Stupid which boasts a vocal from KS, though the distorted bass, mutated 'strings' and all-round mess of a backing track mean it won't be vying for a spot in any fan's Top Ten anytime soon. 'Boasting' six songs (written over four years, goddamit) and a running time of just 21 minutes, let's hope The Complete Recordings remains true to its title.

Matt Dornan
CWAS #7 - Spring 2001