Stylusboy – The Lantern EP

stylusboyRemember that nerdy kid in school, with the coke bottle glasses, whose Mum still packed his lunch for him even though he was already shaving? Who always buttoned the top button of his nerdy plaid shirts?

Well, after the horrors of the school day, that kid would go home, pick up pen and guitar, and start awkwardly constructing something that sounded like a song. Then he bought a four track or perhaps a used laptop with a cheap microphone. Fast forward ten years or so, and that kid now has a record deal, praise from industry heavyweights like BBC6's Tom Robinson, and music lovers the world over know his name and can hum along to his songs. He also has a partner, a raven haired Northern beauty whose husky vocals blend beautifully with his delicate singing style.

That could be the story of Stylusboy, comprised of Steve Jones and Rachel Grisedale. Their music has been described as lo-fi folk, based predictably but appropriately around Steve's acoustic guitar and the sweetly harmonized vocals of Steve and Rachel. Stylusboy have been following their own muse musically and career wise, and after a low intensity but high visibility stretch of homemade recordings, house shows and the like, Stylusboy got signed to Wild Sound. They paired up with producer Polly Paulusma for The Lantern EP, a preview of a full length to be released before the end of the year.

The move seems to have barely affected the signature Stylusboy sound. Perhaps the best thing to say is that Stylusboy's musical sketches have been filled out into full blown paintings. The essence of the band's sound is still very much there, filled out with understated drums and bass, a touch of mandolin, a hint of glockenspiel. The core remains the acoustic guitar, Steve and Rachel's vocals, and of course: the songs.

Opener "Lantern" is a rollicking little folk pop tune. "Love's Tale" that follows starts out with sparse guitar and glockenspiel, then builds as melancholy piano and upright bass join in. The chorus is a little journey into dream pop bliss. This song could work well with a full blown indiepop arrangement, but Stylusboy stick to their minimalist approach, coaxing maximum effect out of a limited musical palette. Achingly beautiful , the highlight of the EP.

The last two songs are live recordings, just acoustic guitar and vocals. "Open" and "Jigsaw" ebb and flow nicely, but never veer into darkness or go beyond pertinent but hardly life altering questions such as, "Where do my tears go?'

It would be a mistake however, to dismiss Stylusboy as pleasant sounding fluff. Tucked away inside a Zen approach to recording and lyric writing, lie some sweet musical gems with layers of poetic beauty that need to be savoured slowly and taken on their own terms. It'll be interesting to hear the full length album, but whatever happens, Stylusboy are sure to continue on their path, at their pace, inviting us all along.

Release: 29th July 2013, Wild Sound


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