Review: Painted Romans – …And Time!

Like many Norwegians before him, Mats Davidsen recalls UK influences so accurately, he ends up performing them more convincingly than those he tries to emulate. Yet he certainly doesn’t choose the obvious artists; rather a cornucopia of British eccentrics from the last thirty years. ‘…And Time!’ is the second full length release under the Painted Romans moniker.

To demonstrate his peculiar reference points, ‘Age Took Us By Storm’ employs the most awkward keyboard melody and when that’s matched with Davidsen’s heavenly accented vocals, he sounds like the Scandinavian answer to early Prefab Sprout. On a more approachable level, the acoustic-based ‘I Love Money’ operates in the ironic territory of The Divine Comedy, whilst instrumentals ‘The Long Hour’ and ‘Soundless Diving’ will have people digging for their old Simple Minds and Blue Nile albums respectively.

‘…And Time!’ is no pastiche record though and Davidsen expresses his unique vision on several occasions. ‘Waiting For The Day’ features a sweet, innocent melody topped off with bizarre lines such as “But you don’t seem to understand that what I want is tin can Fruit”. For ‘Don’t Be Serious’, he enlists his partner Kari Bergliot Tyvoll to provide harmonies. They should sing together more often as the contrast undoubtedly works. Nevertheless, the lush synths and Davidsen’s oddly appealing croon reach their peak for the romantic finale ‘Bide My Time’.

‘…And Time!’ isn’t perfect but its imperfections are often what makes it so charming. Indeed, despite hailing from Trondheim, this gentleman deserves an award for being an honorary eccentric Brit; the kind you don’t hear much from nowadays, probably because they don’t fit in with record executives’ ideas for maintaining profit margins. Needless to say, there’s more creativity in one song here then there is in a whole albums’ worth of many big name, so-called “alternative” releases.

Web Sites:
Painted Romans Official Site
Painted Romans MySpace

Further Listening:
China Crisis, Prefab Sprout, Simple Minds, The Blue Nile

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