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Dudley Benson – Steam Railways of Britain EP

Bea Turner

Music

7/08/2006





There is, to be blunt, a very limited appeal to this. To not want to hurl this EP out the window requires that you, a) have a very high tolerance of the kind of pretentious self-gratifying lyrics that would drive any normal person to a Sunday shooting-spree and b) that you have devoted much of the last few years idolizing one Roddy Woomble, singer and lyricist for the ever-underrated Idlewild. I have both these qualities in abundance. This is a funny little PC-recorded sketch of half formed ideas and snippets that owes much to the bedroom confessional style of The Postal Service and Nick Drake in its execution, and it was a happy few days in my bedroom with this on repeat. Dudley has a beautiful, winsome voice when he avoids the occasional temptation to show off; stunning as his classically trained outer reaches are, they grated with the muted grace of his music. For all that, whenever the lyrics became too akin to nails on the blackboard, he managed to save the situation with ghostly harmonies or wonderfully restrained piano, and there’s enough Wuthering Heights-via-Banks Peninsula darkened landscapes here for me to watch anxiously for his full-length debut, due later this year. Probably only one for the kids who take their tea with a hefty pinch of Belle and Sebastian, Smiths and handmade badges, this is a half-finished, half-bad hint at what might be, and as someone who believes in the same brand of semi-charmed Antipodean romanticism as Dudley Benson, I’m kind of smitten.