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Toploader - Only Human (Album Review)

Monday, 13 June 2011 Written by Chris Jefferies
Toploader - Only Human (Album Review)

It may not be a massive surprise to hear that Toploader's comeback album sounds quite a lot like Coldplay. What might be a bit of a surprise is that it sounds quite a lot like Coldplay in 2005. 'Only Human', the first album by Joseph Washbourn and co. for almost nine years, sounds like an 'X&Y' throwback in many ways, with echoey lead guitar and lingering falsetto vocals cropping up throughout.

ImageEarly noughties Indie fans may be familiar with Toploader for the garish soul-pop of 'Dancing In The Moonlight' (which was a cover anyway), but 'Only Human' is a much more stereotypical effort, with the odd synth riff thrown in for good measure amidst a flurry of very forgettable colour-by-numbers tunes.

Lead single 'A Balance To All Things' sets the tone for a fairly inoffensive album, which seems content to plod along without ever really delivering any moments of inspiration or being brave enough to demand attention. The low point arrives with the thoroughly insipid ballad 'Paradise', which comes across as more detached than arresting, while 'Sound Of Your Soul' and 'Weight Of The World' are packed to the rafters with lyrical clichés. "The weight of all the world is resting down on me,/ I carry that weight on my shoulders for all eternity", moans Washbourn with more than a touch of melodrama.

Admittedly the vocals have lost none of their range, but there is no real urgency or striking originality to any of the tracks on offer here. The bass-driven rock of 'She Said' and the sweeping, orchestral 'Shifting Sands' offer some highlights and prove that this record wasn't a complete waste of time, but if you were expecting a memorable comeback from Toploader, then you will be disappointed. Only human, indeed.

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