Album: Simple Kid

Simple Kid 1, 2M
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The Independent Culture

Simple Kid is Ciaran McFeely, one of those fortunate few blessed with a facility for writing sometimes witty, sometimes silly words and matching them to catchy melodies. The 11 tracks of Simple Kid 1 could be a homage to Britpop, slouching and bouncing along like the chirpier moments from Supergrass and Blur albums. They're populated by a cast of characters ranging from the mundane - the condescending "Average Man" and weekend raver "The Commuter" - to the more fancifully artificial groupies whose exploits are outlined in "Supertramps & Superstars": "Penelope Prozac's a Seventies throwback/ And king of the Camden queens/ Dressed to the nines, yeah/ She'll always remind yer/ She shagged The Ramones in her teens". The lyric style, sort of a cross between Ray Davies and comic verse, allows for the occasional striking line - such as the proud admission in "The Commuter" that "I smoke the brand with the cancer guarantee" - but overall, the archness tends to undercut the impact of the Kid's songs, especially when combined with his self-conscious delivery, which favours falsetto but sometimes plunges to baritone within the space of a verse. The backing tracks are likewise sometimes over-worked, with individual songs slipping from T. Rex glam swoon to sullen declamation and Dylanesque harmonica, or from catchy pop to trip hop to squally slide-guitar blues. Best of a decent bunch are the dub-house groove "Love's An Enigma" and the bubbling clavinet funk of "Drugs", which has the texture, tone and a little of the tune of Beck's "Loser". Simple Kid: this year's Badly Drawn Boy?