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The “big break” for indie artists these days many times seems to happen after a feature in a Volkswagen commercial or other equivalent hipster car ad. It happened to The Walkmen after all. Which makes one wonder how Matt Hales of Aqualung got left out in the cold. The British singer songwriter seemed to be in line for the same treatment after his song, “Strange and Beautiful (I put a spell on you)” landed in a 2002 UK VW ad. And his release from the same year was nothing short of beautiful for his vocal arrangements and catchy hooks.
However, I guess it was too much for America to handle; after all, a US release for either of his first two albums just didnâ€™t happen, to the surprise of those who had heard Aqualungs sound. Which left us out in the cold. (who pays import prices? really) And now, we have a collection of those first two albums from Aqualung finally hitting our Yankee shores this year in the album “Strange and Beautiful.”
I must say I was a little skeptical and excited at the same time when I learned of the US release and the fact that it was a mini compilation of sorts. However, itâ€™s the best of Aqualung, and wont feel like older material to any but his existing fan base. The sounds range from catchy loops and vocal distortions that lead down a beautiful path. Solid songwriting throughout, which isnâ€™t fantastic, but wont leave you dry either makes this a great album to relax to.
I think if Chris Martin ever decided to do a solo album and stick with “Yellow” type songs, it would sound alot like this. Maybe itâ€™s the British affinity between the two, Iâ€™m not sure, but itâ€™s certainly meant as compliment, at least in this instance.
Piano ballads seem to be his forte, Strange and Beautiful, Falling out of Love and others all fall into this group, but on occasion he jazzes things up slightly on tracks like Brighter than Sunshine. I can find myself a little sleepy on some tracks if I play this album while driving, most notablyâ€ If I fall,â€ but it succeeds overall.
Its too bad Matt was unable to get his first two albums released in the US previously; it could have made his next effort even more well received. Still, this is a good one, if you like Coldplay, brit pop or any sort of piano induced songs, have a listen to this, it wonâ€™t disappoint.
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