The Vessels, Gravity
Friday 23 August 2002
Hailing from darkest Kingston-upon-Thames, the Vessels are the latest in that auspicious line of classic British guitar bands that runs from the La's through Teenage Fanclub to Travis, playing winsome jangle-pop laced with soaring harmonies and arpeggiated guitar runs. Like the Fannies, their sound is equally informed by the Beatles and country-rock – the track "Innocence", for instance, resembles a more muscular "Blackbird" with Nashville picking – and, in the front man, Paul Cook, they possess not only a songwriter of formidable natural gifts, but a singer with a persuasively soulful Lennon-esque drawl. It's almost as if both Gallagher brothers' talents were somehow combined in the one person, but minus the bad attitude. Instead, the temperament behind songs like the single "Don't Waste Your Time" is amenable, even self-deprecating ("Don't waste your time on me/ There's even more to see out there"), while "See You Home Straight" presents Cook as the kind of nice, thoughtful boy who could effortlessly charm his way into a potential mother-in-law's heart: "I go out of my way just to see you home straight/ And I try and understand, and make plans". Cook's bonhomie (he even whistles blithely on the song's coda) is tempered by the slightly darker, druggy tone which guitarist Gerard Gannon, the group's other songwriter, brings to a song like "Memory": "How can I come down, get off of this stuff?/ And though I share it, it's more than enough/ And as I take off, I feel so at ease inside". But even here, the laidback cowboy campfire mood is so utterly beguiling it's impossible to feel too concerned. A sparkling debut.
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