'If Keane often sound like a fuzzy photocopy of Travis, then Thirteen Senses sound...
Jaime Gill 2004-10-07
Thousands of albums are released every year, far more than the world could possibly need. A mere handful will be extraordinary or essential. A good few hundred will be frankly unlistenable. But the vast majority will be just... alright. This debut by Cornish four piece Thirteen Senses falls dead in the centre of that dead centre.
The problems with this album begin with that fussily polite title (who would listen to an invitation when they could listen to a demand or a seduction?) and the over-designed, Hoxton-cool cover. But it's the music where the real difficulty lies. If Keane often sound like a fuzzy photocopy of Travis, then Thirteen Senses sound like a fuzzy photocopy of Keane.
None of this is apparent when the gorgeous 'Into The Fire' opens the record, a swooning epic of chiming guitars and plaintive vocals which blends the grandeur of Doves with the dreaminess of Delays. This is big music full of small touches and reveals an admirable ambition. Indeed, it's such a fine opener that the rest of the album can only wilt in its shadow.
Not that the rest of The Invitation is ever so vulgar as to sound ugly or abrasive. If only. Starsailor and Coldplay producer Danton Supple has wrapped the band in a sound as glossy and pretty as a supermodel. The problem is what's under the skin, and in the case of songs as meandering and ineffectual as 'Gone' or 'History' the answer is nothing much.
There are a couple of other moments when something interesting threatens to emerge from the polished surface. 'Thru The Glass' has a stuttering rhythm and a naggingly sweet refrain, though it never coheres into the epic chorus it often threatens, while 'Angels And Spies' has a dreamy, trippy haziness which resembles the extraordinary Mercury Rev.
But finally Thirteen Senses just don't have enough ideas to fill these 52 minutes and The Invitation ends up sounding stretched and dreary.