In the world of mediocre debut albums, bravery counts for very little. ..
Tall, lithe, handsome, and athletic, it’s easy to see why Leeroy Thornhill found fame and fortune as the silent limb-flailing accessory to Prodigy’s gonzoid stadium techno extravaganzas. But having spent much of the 1990s impersonating an angry futuristic clown in a hurry in venues the world over, Thornhill chose to quit the biggest dance act on the planet in order to concentrate on his own music. There have been worse decisions. But not many.
Rightly keen to express himself in a medium that wasn’t limited
to arm-waving and frowning, Thornhill gradually set up studio
in his Essex windmill home. Flightcrank took shape over the course of a series of largely unremarkable remixes for Southern Fly, Kool Keith’s Dr Dooom project, David Gray and Moby, though the tracks’ stoned, naïve charm at least quashed the notion that he was merely peddling lame Prodigy off-cuts.
Alas, ‘Beyond All Reasonable Doubt’ demonstrates that Thornhill really doesn’t know what he’s doing. He has a general idea – to be a Finley Quaye-esque quasi-reggaefied singer-songwriting dancefloor chameleon – but such proud eclecticism so poorly executed soon becomes embarrassing. Quaye indeed ‘plays’ on the forgettable final jam ‘Matchsticks’, Lee Scratch Perry babbles set-fee dub gibberish over ‘Twisted’, while Thornhill applies himself admirably to the lost art of bad big beat (‘Inside Out’).
Strangest and most affecting of all is the Flightcrank ballad: its euphoric chorus means advertisers of ladies’ sanitary products will adore ‘Amazing’, and both ‘Another Year’ and ‘When I Get Famous’ find our erstwhile firestarter searching his soul acoustically, if not entirely convincingly.
Thornhill is certainly a brave man. Sadly, in the world of mediocre debut albums, bravery counts for very little.