Sunday, October 17, 2010

Phil Selway drums up a hit with solo album

Genre: Folk/Acoustic
Nonesuch Records
Running Time: 32:49

I don't know about you, but it always seemed like Radiohead was Thom Yorke and those four other guys.

They are a major part of the band's success, no doubt, but Yorke was the face of the band. So it's no surprise that Phil Selway, the drummer in this band, was going to be mostly unknown, because:

a) Yorke steals all the headlines
b) most people don't pay attention to the drummer anyway

But maybe people should pay attention to this drummer. If there ever was a notion that Yorke was the only real talent in the band, Selway blows it away with his debut solo album, Familial.  

Familial is quiet, moving, introspective, and moody. The softness of Selway's vocal combines with acoustic guitar to make Familial one of the most sublime albums of 2010.

Selway wrote each of the 10 compositions himself. What Selway is doing here is not unlike Conor Oberst's work with Bright Eyes, though Oberst tends to be more folky. I have a hard time describing Selway as folk; it's more like "Karma Police" combined with the moodiness of "Exit Music (For a Film)."

"By Some Miracle," "Beyond Reason," and "The Ties That Bind" have the strongest sense of melody and as such, are the standout tracks. The drumming is kept to a miniuim and never makes much of an impact.

It's not really needed. Selway proves that he's capable of capturing the listener's attention in his own right.

Selway's lyrics are also superb.  One of the major themes on Familial seems to be dealing with conflict and feelings of fear, apprehension, and doubt.

"By Some Miracle" speaks about what it's like to struggle with personal demons, "Patron Saint" deals with being betrayed by a friend and the feelings of bitterness it leaves, while "The Ties That Bind" is a letter to a father wishing for a better life for his son.

"All Eyes On You" deals with a subject many people struggle with - public speaking. You've been invited to a once in a lifetime interview, Selway tells you, and the pressure of the situation makes you so nervous you can't speak.

"And you're embarrassed too
Afraid of the light that shines on you
So frail and so small
So scared, you're terrified by all
The eyes on you"

Granted, not every moment of the album is totally stellar. In some places the album is a little too mellow and wanders a bit, but it's a heck of a start for Selway. As good as he is behind a drumkit, he proves he's even better when taking center stage himself.

Score: 83/100

No comments: