Emoticons

Their moniker makes them sound like idealistic ice cream merchants, but they're mentioned in the same breath as [a]Nick Drake[/a] since [B]Robert Kirby[/B], [B]Drake[/B]'s string arranger, scored the

Emoticons

8 / 10 Their moniker makes them sound like idealistic ice cream merchants, but they're mentioned in the same breath as [a]Nick Drake[/a] since Robert Kirby, Drake's string arranger, scored the opening track on their previous album, 'Hello'. London's Ben & Jason slyly evade single comparisons.



Sometimes they remind you of Paul McCartney in his White Album period, as on the unassuming but irresistible 'Air Guitar' or on the superficially jolly but sour-centred 'Dear Sally'. Elsewhere, they're reminiscent of Radiohead, on 'Smiling Shy' or 'Romeo And Juliet Are Drowning' with its petulant, out-of-character guitar wig-out. But we're talking about a less windy, less dramatised Radiohead.



Ben Parker and Jason Hazeley cite John Martyn and Joni Mitchell as influences. Like them, their songs don't just move you, they're songs that you move through, full of over-matter, juxtapositions, thick curtains of chamber strings. This album was recorded in a cluttered railway arch and it properly, physically reflects the mess their heads were in when they wrote it. Yet in spite of the weight of sheer stuff in their songs, there's a winsome lightness about Ben & Jason - whether it's the touching inadequacy of Jason's falsetto vocals or the artful wit with which these songs are composed and constructed. Emoticons drifts about on a shifting sea of sentiments but, light craft that it is, refuses to go under.

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