Stocked full with hooks which just will not let go and melodies which linger long after their passing, the Age of Nothing EP from Welsh singer/songwriter Phil Lewis provides six buoyant and inventive tracks which play like new adventures but approach the imagination like old friends you feel you previously knew. The release certainly embraces the ears and its own enterprise with relish, with an eagerness and vibrancy which soaks every accomplished note and idea, and though it also offers open familiarities in its presence it wears those inspirations proudly on its sleeve showing the eclectic influences on the creativity of Lewis.
Hailing from Penarth, Lewis has already released a trio of well-received and acclaimed albums since 2007, the release year of debut Ancient Light. Bringing inspirations from the likes of The Killers into the new release it is only another flavour which has marked the informative and creative years of the man. From listening to the top Forty every Sunday as a child to start him off, Lewis has been drawn and been nourished by the likes of 1970’s funk, indie music, and ‘big stadium bands’ like U2 and Coldplay, as well as finding a particular affinity with African rhythm music too. All these sparks in his own tempting style helped to take subsequent albums Movements In Space and Ripples From a Small Pond, 2009 and ’11 respectively, to a certain and keen recognition but it is easy to suggest that the excellent Age of Nothing might be the one to make Lewis a name on many more appreciative lips.
It is fair to say that the EP does not come down on the ear and seduce like an instant classic, though it certainly provides a bait that is impossible to move away from, but it is when the songs, their melodies, and those impossibly addictive hooks return on their own with a beckoning potency far away from the record that you know there is something extra i and long term about the release. Opening track Imprisoned is a prime example, a song which in its company is a sizeable temptation but one laying seeds within which blossom and seduce all over again whenever they want at any unpredictable moment away from the record and music. The song emerges from a small and enticing sonic web with a great bassline coaxing which is almost gnawing the senses. As with all the instruments, the delicious bait is provided by Lewis’ collaborator Ben Haynes who also produced the EP, as well as previous albums. The trap is soon snapped shut as an immediate appetite for the thick heavy tones and punchy rhythms is further lured by flames of guitars and the distinct tones of Lewis. His voice does not jump out but there is a quality which defines it and works well with the melodic harmonies which join him throughout. A definite early U2 feel to the track breaks out to add a further vein of strong suasion but it is the hypnotic rhythmic enticement which grips the deepest whilst making a virulent canvas for the melodies and infectious charms of the song to work their rich attraction.
The impressive start is instantly matched by the equally contagious Ready. Less energetic than the first but still with an eager gait to its persuasion the bass again steals the march on the other sounds as it strolls alongside the vocals. Soon though elegant electro kisses and a melodic tantalising is adding extra magnetism as the song leads into the emotively fired chorus. It is like a flare up of melodic flame and again has something recognisable in its seventies rock built presence. Not as irresistible as its predecessor but an easy to welcome and hard to escape slice of rock pop smouldering, the song only increases the already strong appeal of the release.
The title track is another interminably seductive offering, guitars and rhythms resourcefully veining a poetic ambience before all collude to forge a pop sculpted song with a rock frame and pounding which leaves you wanting more whilst implanting again that essence which brings it back to mind again and again. Its successor Devil Comes To Dance shows another side to the release and Lewis’ songwriting, the track a scuzz lit rub of vocals and guitar creating a dark atmospheric intrigue whilst keys add Doors like melodic heat and psyche tempting to the causticity. Though maybe this is one song which fails to linger and return like the others it is a riveting blaze face to face which sets you up perfectly for the fully addictive Fly Again. There is a sixties rock/pop air to the song which enlarges its lure with a sultry melodic climate and expressive guitar craft, at times an Echo and the Bunnymen spice pervading its narrative.
The EP is completed by Calling Me, a song with a similar premise and spicery to the previous song whilst creating its own distinct character and enjoyable venture. It is a strong and ripe final invitation into the world of Phil Lewis, another influential beckoning which if not as powerful as earlier track certainly like the EP as a whole spotlights the satisfying creativity of an artist who on the evidence of Age of Nothing deserves a much wider attentive audience.
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