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Bill Ryder-Jones - Yawn (Album Review)

Tuesday, 13 November 2018 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Ki Price

Bill Ryder-Jones’ fifth solo album is a dream-pop melange of shoegaze and alternative indie fed through a highly literate, if rather boring, cypher.

It’s not that the music isn’t well put together. Ryder-Jones has been recording since his former band, the Coral, broke through in 2002 and is a seasoned arranger and writer who explores many different tonalities on ‘Yawn’.

Furthermore, his distinctive fingerpicking guitar style is rich, skilful and occasionally hypnotic. The challenge comes from the lack of tangible innovation within the music.

Additionally, his mumbled vocals - which place him stylistically in the neighbourhood of Conor Oberst and the Clientele’s Alasdair MacLean - help to dismiss lyrics that might otherwise be quite interesting.

One of the challenges with this kind of music is that it is actually very similar to the soft rock of Coldplay or Elbow, but without the big singalong moments. Those bands often generate contempt from the same musos who value the independence of artists like Ryder-Jones, but it’s a deeply tribal hostility that can also be seen in the outright hatred of centrists by the hard left. Surely the real battle is with the hard right?

None of which is Ryder-Jones’ fault, of course, but it might explain why he makes certain compositional choices. There Are Worse Things I Could Do is a heavy dirge that resembles the Cranberries’ Zombie. It’s long, varied and should be transcendental, but the actual impact is enervation. The music seems to drain the energy from the room, filling it with a kind of emotional exhaustion.

At the end of the day, Ryder-Jones has called the album ‘Yawn’, so he’s clearly pre-empting any poison pen. The music has a kind of satisfaction in its mopey trudging, but that self-awareness is not enough to save it. Like Arctics Monkeys’ recent ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’ album, one could see this record as a bit of a genre exercise if it weren’t for the fact that - as mentioned before - ‘Yawn’ sounds like something very mainstream: a kind of knock-off Elbow.

Bill Ryder-Jones Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu December 13 2018 - LIVERPOOL Grand Central Hall
Tue February 12 2019 - SHIPLEY Salt Beer Factory
Wed February 13 2019 - EDINBURGH Summerhall
Thu February 14 2019 - GATESHEAD Sage Gateshead
Fri February 15 2019 - NOTTINGHAM Bodega Social
Sat February 16 2019 - BIRMINGHAM Castle and Falcon
Sun February 17 2019 - BRISTOL Thekla
Mon February 18 2019 - BRIGHTON Haunt
Tue February 19 2019 - LONDON EartH
Thu February 21 2019 - BELFAST Black Box
Fri February 22 2019 - DUBLIN Whelans

Click here to compare & buy Bill Ryder Jones Tickets at Stereoboard.com.



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