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Tuesday, December 22, 2009


320 KBPS

Finlay Quaye's second album appears destined to be condemned to the same fate as Terence Trent D'Arby's similarly success-cheating sophomore release, long cited as a cautionary tale for any artist considering giving the people something other than what they want. And what they seem to want from Finlay is his trademark burbly lite-reggae pop, the kind of music that, for me, made his debut "Maverick A Strike" rather too much of an insubstantial thing. What reggae still remains on "Vanguard" is predominately of a darker, dubbier hue, surrounded here by stream-of-consciousness freeform lyrical association ("Broadcast", for example, degenerates into a lecture about the different kinds of beans Finlay enjoys), straightahead guitar rock (the single "Spiritualized", for example, inspired by his burgeoning friendship with that band's Jason Spaceman) and tales from the dark side of his new-found celebrity ("Chad Valley" alludes, briefly, to his time spent in rehab). Of course, the mere fact that a record fails to conform to some expected template doesn’t necessarily make it great, but there are sufficient strands waiting to be untangled on "Vanguard" to suggest that it's a greater musical triumph than we could have dared expect, even if it's not a commercial one.

1. Broadcast
2. Spiritualized
3. Emporer
4. Burning
5. Everybody Knows
6. Feeling Blue
7. When I Burn off into the Distance
8. Chad Valley
9. Calendar
10. British Air Rage
11. White Paper
12. Hey Now

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