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Album Review

Rodney Cromwell
Age of Anxiety Happy Robots Records

Article written by Ged M - May 21, 2015

rodney_cromwell.jpg
He’s gone through a few names now – he was also “Arthur” in Arthur and Martha - and was a member of retro-futurists and 2002 Festive Fifth summiteers Saloon, but Adam Cresswell has always made quality but quirky pop. Musically, there are echoes of OMD, Kraftwerk, the Pet Shop Boys and New Order, depending on the degree of experimentalism and electronica employed, and he even gives the BBC Radiophonic Workshop a run for their money on ‘Baby Robots’. Lyrically, the bible-black humour reminds this listener of Neil Tennant and Luke Haynes, especially on the motorik ‘Barry Was An Arms Dealer’ and the crazy, compelling ‘Fenchurch Street’, which begins with a frantic New Order-ish sound, confessing “I have such unnatural fears: the Blackwall Tunnel, Southend Pier…”. ‘One Two Seven’ is danceable technopop pitched at the perfect beat while ‘Fax Message Breakup’ is a more aesthetic form of Kraftwerk-style electronica but with a memorable melody.

And that’s at the heart: these are pop songs, whatever the degree of programming or vocodered vocals employed. ‘Black Dog’ might be about depression and mentions trepanning but it speeds along on insistent, jittery rhythms while ‘Cassiopeia’ has warm synths and a feeling that’s more organic than mechanical. If there’s a criticism, it’s that Adam's - sorry Rodney's - voice is too often hidden behind electronic treatments, so it’s a joy when Alice Hubley, the “Martha” of Arthur and Martha (and now Cosines), adds warmth and a sharp but humorous tone to the relationship fable ‘You Will Struggle’.

‘Age Of Anxiety’ is an askew view of the world and its woes, but with enough gallows humour and blissful tunes to leave you feeling optimistic about the future.

Links:
https://rodneycromwell.bandcamp.com/
http://www.happyrobots.co.uk
https://twitter.com/robot_rocker

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