From Newcastle by way of Nottingham, Nic Armstrong is a young songwriter with a keen appreciation of the sounds and styles of Sixties British beat groups - though, admittedly, that impression might largely be due to the input of producer Liam Watson and his retro-fitted Toe Rag studio, whose antique technology (no device made after 1964) proved so perfectly suited to the needs of The White Stripes on Elephant. Here, the touchstone year would probably be 1962 or 1963, with plenty of galloping, blues-harp-drenched white-boy R&B in the manner of the early Stones or Pretty Things ("I Can't Stand It" and "On a Promise"), a smattering of jolly Merseybeat enthusiasm ("She Changes like the Weather"), some gymnastic drum fills in a Keith Moon style on last year's single "Natural Flair", and a hint
of skiffle in the thumping bass-drum offbeat of "Scratch the Surface". The Lennon-esque edge to Armstrong's voice on "You Made It True" only adds to the retro feel, and there's a nice touch in the way the album ends with "Mrs the Moraliser", which accurately evokes the point at which UK R&B was just starting to get subtly twisted into new shapes by the first impact of psychedelia. Watson's production plays to the strengths of Armstrong's songwriting, which employs a pleasing simplicity in peeling away the disguises and deceits of the sexual battlefield.