It comes as something of a shock to find Alfie have finally found the missing piece of...
Jack Smith 2002
Alfie are more than five years into their musical journey which has failed so far to achieve much success. Indeed, they endured a period of poverty during a spat with their first label, Twisted Nerve. Few bands get the chance to make a fourth album despite never truly hitting the spot with any of their previous discs.
So it comes as something of a shock to find they've finally found the missing piece of their jigsaw. Luck favours the brave and Alfie's courage and belief in their meandering folk-rock whimsy has paid off on Crying At Teatime. This album has drive, albeit in the pedal-and-pop moped style.
The five members of Alfie aren't the only ones to credit for this new found direction. Listening to album opener and lead single "Your Own Religion" it's easy to hear what an effect touring with the Flaming Lips has had on them. The Lips epic "Do You Realize?" echoes through the track, and elsewhere, the confident psychedelia of their Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots album makes its presence felt.
Thankfully, it never overpowers. Already ensconced in their own world, they have cherry-picked the best of the Lips influence without weakening their own work. "Look At You Now" breezes along like the fronds of the dandelion it describes while the lyrics of the powerful title track describe an argument over who said what. "Where Did Our Loving Go?" is an excellent power ballad and "All Too Heavy Now" even threatens to put a dynamic pop-rock refrain into Alfie's canon.
Alfie's music is a capricious beast and may occasionally veer unnervingly close to Polyphonic Spree territory and some will find lead singer Lee Gorton's vocals a little too nasal. But with Crying At Teatime, Alfie have finally escaped the tag of 'former Badly Drawn Boy backing band' and stepped confidently into the musical sunshine.