Holiday Crowd - Over The Bluffs
Bullshit, yes, but perhaps understandably so. Haniff has obviously spent years locked in his bedroom, alone, with his elder brother's (or his father's) old Smiths albums, listening to them and taking in everything about them. So long has he spent, in self-imposed solitary confinement concentrating on the Smiths' back catalogue, than when he finally emerged into the light, his voice had ceased to be his own. Instead, he had assumed, as close as anyone can, the singing voice of Morrisey. And having done so, Haniff set about assembling a group of musicians who could provide a foil for his vocal style.
To say that the Holiday Crowd sound like the Smiths is, therefore, making a statement so blatantly obvious that it will amaze you that it required saying at all. Clearly the Holiday Crowd are a band dissatisfied with what they are, longing to be something else. Describing the album as a "love letter to Scarborough" one wonders if any of them have ever been to the windswept, god-forsaken Yorkshire so-called beach resort (two of them claimed to have grown up there), and if they had would they still feel that it was worthy of addressing a love letter to, rather than a curse as you drove away from a town where you had spent your entire summer holiday under sheets of polystyrene sheltering from the rain and the cold and cursing the day you ever saw the place.
But let us forgive the Holiday Crowd their unlikely fantasy to a bleak Yorshire seaside resort. Let us instead turn to the music. Yes, Imran Haniff is a Morrisey clone, but guitarist Colin Bowers is clearly no Johnny Marr. Now whether Bowers' unwillingness to mimic Marr's distinctively complex jangly guitar sound is due to choice or lack of ability - I suspect the latter - is perhaps open to debate. But it is the saving grace which prevents this album from being nothing more than an out-and-out Smiths rip-off.
There is something strangely appealing about the songs on this album. It reminds those of us old enough to know of an ear when music was different, more clearly defined, more melodic, I suppose. The Holiday Crowd do not mimic the Smiths to the extent that they ape that band's quintessential miserableness which did so much to define the attitude of the youth of the eighties. And yet, they take the joy, the life and the exuberance of that decade and translate it into 2012. Maybe because, as in the eighties, the Tories are back in polwer once more and, in their own inimitable style, waging war on anything which would prevent themselves and their privately educated bretheren from enriching themselves at the expense of the rest of us, this album feels as if its time is now. It is hard to tell. Perhaps as an Englishman it strikes a chord with me which is all but impossible to explain to someone who is not a citizen of these shores. And yet, somehow, these sounds, coming from a band based out in Toronto some 25 years after the fact does sound a little odd. I can appreciate the nostalgia. But whether I would wish it to return again is another matter entirely.
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