Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs


Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs look great. They look perfect, in fact. Not a hair on their meticulously manicured fringes out of place, and the monochrome imagery of The Velvet Underground having a kick-about with Edward Scissorhands is all present and correct. Their debut album, Clarietta does a passable impression of a good record too, but the whiff of pastiche lingers heavy over Charlie’s trippy realm.

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It’s a decent enough opening salvo: ‘Things We Be’ recalls Television but has enough of its own pomp to convince, before the Tom Verlaine love-in continues on ‘I’ve Got A River’, with sparks of genuine intrigue as guitarist Sam Davies trades Black Angels-style licks with the singer culminating in a metallic, staccato Foals-y outro. The title track too is pleasant enough, but it’s here the album begins to lag, with the addition of an unnecessary Wurlitzer that has the aura of a slightly bored, big-handed fairground attendant. ‘Go Blow A Gale’ does little to lift the spirits, plodding along as it does with all the vigour of a force one breeze over Cromarty.

There’s just never the sense that the five-piece are fully letting go. It’s the sort of record that ticks all the boxes in its influences, but it’s like the self-conscious scene kid that wears all the right clothes but might feel more comfortable in a pair of cords and a waistcoat.

It’s all just a little pedestrian. A tiny person on a pavement. Music doesn’t have to innovate if it engages and excites – just ask the Gallaghers – that is, after all the maxim of rock & roll. But Clarietta neither innovates nor offers up the sex. It barely gives a solitary glimpse of a thigh, let alone inviting us to meet it in the bathroom.

There are moments when Clarietta breaks from being the wallflower at the indie disco, and lets fly with a few carefree windmills. ‘I Watch You’ in particular is a high point – its scuzzy guitars heralding a stomper with the poppy charm of Supergrass, its neat refrain a persuasive earworm. And ‘Be A Complete Dream’ with its lo-fi leanings, grunge undertow and murky menace too threatens to identify a tangible sense of who Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs actually are. Closer ‘The Central Tonne’ is the best of the lot, defiantly give-a-fuck, eerily lumbering into view like Javier Bardem on a Shire horse. "It’s not getting any better," Boyer yelps. But he’s wrong on that score, for if this points to the future for CB&TV then it’s a horizon of promise.

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