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Of Arrowe Hill | The Spring Heel Penny Dreadful (Must Destroy)
It's a safe bet that Merseyside's Of Arrowe Hill have listened to Guided by Voices in their time. So much so that, for large chunks of their debut album, they come across as a GbV tribute band, albeit one singing with a North of England accent. The song titles are a giveaway - I Are Becoming Instinct, Psychic Vampire Supply Teacher, Night Gallery Emissions (After Lights Out) - all straight off #597 in the Fading Captain Series. And that's before you hear the brief, sloppy, proggy, psychedelic-meets-power pop songs, eleven of which breeze past in twenty-five minutes (you can discount the formless sound collages that constitute the final twenty-nine). But, the overarching debt to Pollard, Sprout et al aside, there are a few genuinely winning moments. The Push-Button Deities has a rousing, almost arena rock passage before it dissolves into ripples of piano and second single Gadfly Adolescence is ramshackle, off kilter and melodic. And great. It's disappointing that for so much of the record they don't seem willing to throw away the template - next time be guided by your own voices, lads.

Stephen Raywood
CWAS #12 - Summer 2003