Being engulfed in fascination for something is one of life’s pleasures and stepping into the kaleidoscopic world of An Invitation To Infamy is certainly both. The debut album from The Vintage Calvinos is an absorbing tapestry of sound and suggestion loaded with observation, insight, and a creative devilment which just gets right under the skin.
The band is the creation of song writer/bassist/vocalist David Baird who lured in some of the finest Scottish musicians to the Aberdeen based project and indeed, in the case of backing singer Xavia, literally just passing by talent of drawn to the pied piper-esque sounds coming through the windows of The Anatomy Rooms where the band was rehearsing. Together they have created a web of temptation in skilfully conjured word and multi-flavoured music which has the body swaying and imagination swinging in joyful enterprise and contemplation. From pop to indie, rock to folk and a host of numerous other spices, An Invitation To Infamy is a beautiful collusion drawn from the hearts of a collective of musical adventurers.
The instantly compelling rub of drama soaked strings as Prelude leaps upon ears and imagination sets the scene and tone of things to come, its vocal compulsion subsequently slipping into a warm slow waltz with a flowing energy which soon has hips leaning to and fro as guitars and strings engage with the romancing keys in entwining dulled yet potent percussive beats. The forcibly engaging piece leads into the waiting arms of Last Tango which opens with melodic drama somewhat akin to War of The Worlds. Its rich strains soon twist into a rolling stroll with more infectiousness than a viral cold and a net of creative intrigue which has ears and thoughts enslaved. Baird’s great vocals are more than matched by the backing of Xavia, both wrapped in the melodic dexterity of Paul Davidson’s guitar. With a second never wasted on predictability, the track is superb, almost reason enough alone to accept An Invitation To Infamy.
So Many People follows, the buzz of life breeding a slow carnival march, one seemingly infusing the tiredness of perpetually imposing life with the joy of being. Brass blows with an enticing clamour as rhythms throb, a welcoming cacophony parting for the melancholic spicing of Baird’s vocals and the stirring scythes of strings and in turn uniting for a creative throng which just magnetises the senses. Like a sonic pagan scented Lowry composition with a broader outlook, the track utterly seduces before new single You Are Always on My Mind infests the psyche. The striking coaxing of Mitsuki Takayama’s violin instantly grips, a hold tightening as the song evolves into a sixties pop scented canter. There is no resistance to its teasing temptations and lively catchiness, the quickly involved antics of body and vocal chords swift evidence. Davidson’s wall of keys is just as irresistible along with the theatre of strings and the rhythmic saunter of Baird’s bass and Fraser Peterkin’s drum beats.
The indie seduction of This Handsome Boy absorbs attention next. It is a track with a touch of Lightning Seeds to it at certain moments and pure pop contagion throughout led by the golden tones of Iona Macdonald and warm surges of brass expelled by trumpeter Bill Thompson, trombonist Denis Webb, and saxophonist Dave Carter. Sometimes there is something about it which feels quite familiar yet for no obvious reason as it floods ears with instinctive pleasure.
The album’s first single, No Room at The Inn released a couple of weeks ago, steps in to captivate straight after with its gentle stroll. Its proposal is low key, compared to other songs, but rich invitation into the album’s broadening musical and lyrical craft while Clouds smoulders with elegance and undiluted captivation. At times it sounds like a blend of Steely Dan and Weekend, a wistful seduction with intensity in its heart and an energetic adventure in its nature.
Through the haunting entrance and golden incestuous intimacy of Alice and the minimalistic but rich stirring of Lost, band and album continue to bewitch with adventurous diversity and creative revelry. Both tracks simply enthral whilst manipulating the body before Teardrops in My Eyes swaggers in with sorrowful melodies and sinful energy to reinforce the submission of ears and appetite before The Vintage Calvinos.
The dusky rock ‘n’ roll of Rock Dreams Part 2 is like a soundtrack to many of our musical upbringings and warm homage to its kings and quite irresistible as too after a magnetic instrumental reprise of No Room at The Inn, is closing track The Beautiful and the Damned. A shadow draped ballad to the lost and the lonely with the darkest outcome, the song is simply sultry aural beauty epitomising the craft and debut of The Vintage Calvinos.
With a host of other striking individual contributions involved in the collective creation of An Invitation To Infamy, all deserving recognition, the album is one of the year’s most essential encounters. The first listen is gold but only an appetizer to the delights and unbridled pleasures which follow with every subsequent union between ear and sound.
An Invitation To Infamy is released October 27th on Stereogram Recordings with the single You Are Always On My Mind out October 20th.
The album’s launch is to be held at Under The Hammer, North Silver Street, Aberdeen on Saturday 28th October 2017 from 2pm.
Pete RingMaster 17/10/2017
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