Release Date: Sep 13, 2011
Record label: Damaged Goods
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Pop
Aseven-piece, sensitive indie-pop group from Glasgow were always going to risk life in the shadow of Belle and Sebastian. However, Butcher Boy's third album sees them affirming their own groove of beautifully crafted and orchestrated pop songs. The main template here is clearly Love's Forever Changes; however, John Blain Hunt's almost exaggeratedly polite delivery recalls the same era's classic British songsmiths, especially the Bee Gees circa Massachusetts.
The Glasgow-twee shop clique might have sauntered out of town when Stuart David and Isobel left B&S but the vibe lives on, albeit just, in the likes of Butcher Boy. But this isn’t simply a rehashing of fey-pop history. Rather than tales of school yards and sunshine, frontman John Hunt offers a more realistic world view. As ‘The Day Our Voices Break’ kicks in, reverb-drenched chords are met with a tango rhythm and Hunt’s downbeat poetry.
Attempting to shake off the comparisons with fellow Glaswegians Belle & Sebastian that their wistful, indie pop sound understandably suggested, eight-piece outfit Butcher Boy pursue a darker and more downbeat direction for their third album, Helping Hands. Indeed, the mournful, cello-led instrumentals which bookend its 13 tracks ("J Is for Jamie," "Every Other Saturday Night") provide a suitable sense of foreboding and reflection on an album drenched in melancholy, from the bittersweet Spaghetti Western-tinged alt-country of "I Am the Butcher" to the reverb-drenched, Lloyd Cole-esque dissection of loneliness on "The Day Our Voices Broke" to the haunting, ambient synth pop of "Whistle and I'll Come to You. " Making use of the accomplished musicianship on board, the subtle orchestral arrangements, and frontman John Blain Hurt's quivering vocals and eloquent poetic lyrics, undoubtedly helps to provide an effective mood piece.
Boy oh boy, [a]Butcher Boy[/a], the inclusion of lines like, “[i]I paint a chain of buttercups around your neck[/i]” (from a song called [b]‘Bluebells’[/b], no less) don’t half make pigeonhol… sorry, reviewing your third album much easier. Add to that the surely pertinent observation – the fact – that this is delicate, warm indie pop of the early [a]Belle And Sebastian[/a] variety (their frontman Stuart Murdoch is known to be a big fan), and you as a listener will likely know whether this is a pool you want to dip your toe in or not. There’s certainly a good ear for a melody in evidence (most noticeable of all on [b]‘Imperial’[/b]), but testicles are nowhere to be seen.Hamish MacBain .