1 May 2011

Album Review: The Ray Summers

The Ray Summers
'Russian Tearoom'
(Keep Calm Recordings)

A hugely listenable album drenched in the retrospective coolness of a neo-60’s sound

Pop music with touches of soul and a cantering ska-esque beat embellished in a vintage dressing by a collective of musicians clearly skilled in their chosen art - The Ray Summers have been refurbishing drab corners of music’s most jaded places, with the chipper effervescence of their retro tinged uniqueness, since 2008. In a timescale which, in contextual music based statistics, counts for no time at all, they’ve toured the UK, released singles, shone among the festival crowds and sold out Glasgow’s King Tuts….three times. All of that, if you will, can be considered a great start for any band. But do they have the artillery to advance further? Can they step up to where releasing an album requires them to be? Of course they can, and they have….effortlessly…it would seem.

Russian Tearoom is an account of all that influences them…the different styles, tempos and genres is a gathered input crafted into something remarkably catchy and new, testament, surely, to clever, established musicians completely tuned in to making an album that must conceivably express their sound. Opening track ‘The Rush’ has an affecting psychedelic exuberance with hazy harmonies that stretch across the song’s diameters…a subtle effectiveness that works in a way they probably intended. The simpler, hook-filled  retro pop of ‘Follow Me Down’ is sharp edged, tightly bound and seamless. Atmospheric stand out ballad ‘Lord Forgive Me’ with a propelling lead vocal as tender as it is ferocious is a dichotonic change of direction and pace against the livelier ‘Travelling Man’ or the cinematic brilliance ‘The Ballad Of A Bitter Man’ bristles upon. The Ray Summers are incredibly coherent song-writers and Russian Tearoom is a nostalgically British sounding album - and one they should be hugely proud of.