Myles Mayo – Myles Mayo [Album Review]

Review by: Ben Connolly

Buy the CD here
  First albums can be tricky beasts to get right. For some they’re cringe-worthy telegraphs of earnest naivety best left uncovered, for others they signpost a highpoint never again attained. For most, however, they are a hotch-potch of eagerness and ideas, often with so much crammed into short hard-won studio time or crazy experiments trying to find their way around a myriad of home recording equipment.

Myles Mayo’s self-titled debut release falls into the latter “trying to cram everything in” category which, while certainly interesting and intriguing, often comes across as a curious iPod playlist at times, rather than a cohesive narrative.

Mayo is the front-man of Adelaide pop-rock band Special Patrol who’s found just enough internal artistic drive to branch out on his own.

The album divides itself neatly between quirky indie-beat pop and sublime troubadour guitar licks, all joined by Mayo’s distinctive strangled vocals. Opening tracks “My Little Tokyo” and “You Done Me Wrong” (also the first single) veer towards the quirky side of the spectrum, with lilting melodies and over-packed production. Despite the hooky choruses, however, both fail to pack a punch as they weave and meander around cutesy instrumentation. The vocals shine through immediately though, with Mayo’s style leaning towards the affected effortless approach currently sought after in the indie scene. As much as I want to scream at him to enunciate properly and maybe inject some passionate “oohs and ahhs”, it’s also refreshing to hear a vocalist lean back into the song and match the style of the tune.

And that style is never more apparent than when Mayo does a Jekyl and Hide routine and trades in quirky indie-pop vibes for acoustic-based tales. Like many dodgy suburban parties, solo albums usually turn to shit when a keening lad with a cute face and an earnest sense of self-worth breaks out the acoustic guitar. Every so often, however, there’s a gem that can break through the rocks and it can be quite uplifting. Mayo nods to luminaries such as Wilco and early Alex Lloyd with tunes “I Slept The Winter Underground” and “Daddy’s Lamb To The Slaughter”, while tale of regret “Crazy Like Me” is achingly honest and unencumbered.

It’s that honesty within the lyrics which threads throughout the to-ing and fro-ing between musical styles among the 12 tracks. While it can often border on teenage boy humour (“Feel like I’m alone in a room full of people at a party / I’m the clown in the corner with his pants down waving his dick around for everybody” from Leave The Party) there’s a slice-of-life truthfulness to this vignettes which is inviting. And its this which sets Mayo’s first offering ahead of the pack, and also sign-posts some solid foundations of what’s to come.

Other article by Ben Connolly…
* Cold War Kids “Mine Is Yours” – Album Review
* Gareth Liddiard “Strange Tourist” Album Review
* Nicholas Roy “In A Shoebox Under The Bed” – LP Review
* Blame Ringo “In A Hurricane” – Single Review
* Jeff Lang @ East Brunswick Club, Melbourne – 11 September 2010 – Live Review
* Live Review: Ball Park Music, Blame Ringo, Tin Can Radio @ The Zoo, Brisbane 21 May 2010
* Search for Ben Connolly article here…