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Thomas White
The Maximalist Steve Jelbert , March 17th, 2010 06:51

Thomas White The Maximalist album artworkHe looked hyperactive when he started out as a schoolboy behind the traps in the perpetually promising, never-quite-there Electric Soft Parade. So it's no big surprise that the first formally released solo record (I Dream of Black seeped out in 2008) from Thomas White, should be impossible to pin down rather than the sound of a man desperate to let loose his own previously muffled muse. (Most Brighton based musical activities, notably Brakes and their cousins British Sea Power, seem to have featured White at times so this is unsurprising).

The title is perfectly appropriate. White tries everything, from a paean to his home town (the haunting 'Jerusalem Thorn' actually lists local landmarks like a seasiding Julian Cope and White's own snaps of The Lanes are used on the sleeve) to the sprawling multi-sectioned proggery of 'The Weekend'. From the opening 'Introducing The Band' (its title a gag, for White plays every note) which cunningly bolts some Abbey Road harmonies to the riff of Big Star's 'In The Streets' to the bleak collision of easy listening and techno of 'Moonlight and Snow', an electronic analogue of Jerry Dammers's timeless MoR ska experiments, no style is off limits. The belting glam rock of single 'The Last Blast' stomps like Roxy Music at their most mindless, but lyrically refers to another 70s throwback, the now forgotten author Sven Hassel, whose faintly pornographic tales of Nazi derring-do were as popular as football among the era's schoolboys. (Surely amateur historians BSP missed a trick here.)

Even the clutch of covers featured are songs by men known for making a living rather than a killing, Robert Pollard and Warren Zevon. The latter's ballad 'Accidentally Like A Martyr' is done straight, making it sound even more incongruous on a collection already packed with sudden turns while Guided By Voices' deceptively simple 'Look At Them' offers a rare pause for concision. Its sparseness fits nonetheless next to the closing '…Lost', a cunning description of what happens to those who suggest "Let's go away for a while." English Channel Grey, this is a solo effort that should not be overlooked.