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Lawrence Arabia: Lawrence Arabia

Bea Turner



When he’s not playing bass for the Brunettes or fronting new band The Reduction Agents, James Milne trades under the Lawrence Arabia moniker in order to peddle such contents of the jukebox in his head as don’t fit with either of these two outfits. An infuriatingly talented guy then, but perhaps spread a little too thin. Mr. Milne’s talent as a songwriter and arranger is undoubted, but this is an inconsistent and incoherent album that feels very much like a bunch of individual songs shoehorned roughly together.
Milne does have an ear for the ridiculous and a good taste in twee rhyming couplets, and he’s onto a charming line in lo-fi heartfelt little tunes that manage in parts to absolutely nail the ground somewhere between the Beach Boys’ surf harmonies, Connor Oberst’s bare-bones country, and gentle electronica. The delicate electro-pop buildup of ‘Half The Right Size’, the chiming Byrds-esque guitar of ‘The Joke Is In Your Hand’ and rock swagger ‘Business Planning’ are the three songs that keep it together the whole way through – almost every other track on this eccentric, frequently beautiful and funny album lost me at various points through sheer indulgence or studied, pointless oddness. ‘Talk About The Good Times’ is all very well and amusing, but along with about 30 percent of the material here, some judicious editing should have cut this out. My opinion of this album was, I admit, swayed most unfairly by the fact that I read the sleeve notes first. You will probably enjoy this much more if you don’t. They are pretentious hot air, and will probably make you angry. Or at least much less inclined to be open-minded about a fifty second song called ‘Everyone’s Had Dinner With Rabbit’.