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Tommy Reilly Words on the Floor Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Remarkable only for its why-even-bother mediocrity.

Mike Diver 2009

Water down The View for a market that doesn’t appreciate the potty-mouthed sideshow antics that come with the Dundee four-piece’s inoffensive and upbeat indie-pop, and what do you have? This, essentially: Tommy Reilly’s debut album is the kind of perfectly forgettable affair that’s characterised only by one thing, his thick Scottish accent.

Which, to some, will be an appealing selling point – his last single, Jackets, slumped in the nationwide chart, but if Wikipedia is to be believed it was a Scottish number one. While such a statistic suggests the singer enjoys some popularity on his home turf, the background to this record isn’t one where Reilly has dragged himself around pub function rooms and basement clubs in pursuit of his dream – rather than build a fanbase via regular gigging, he won a television talent show. The same television talent show that reminded the music world of Envy & Other Sins and provided them with the facilities to record an album with A&M, who promptly buried them again once it was clear that no hits were forthcoming.

Reilly’s show-winning song Gimme a Call charted highly in January of 2009, but its follow-up’s flopping must have A&M worried, again, that their contest-conquering acquisition is rather short on commercial appeal. And they’d be right to fret, as Words on the Floor is little more than a collection of average arrangements complemented by a voice that will either enrapture or enrage. It’s not a painless listen, as its maker – who worked with producer Bernard Butler, which at least ensures the right amount of gloss is laid atop each track – is partial to a squeal this writer thought was only producible by a child with his or her hand trapped in a car door. But, as stated above, there are sure to be some listeners who will find his singing style oddly endearing.

Sickly cloying numbers like Having No One and the record’s title track are notable lows on a collection hardly bursting with highlights, but given Reilly’s youth – he looks barely old enough to take his theory test – the lyrical predictability of heart-on-sleeve pieces can be forgiven, for now. With maturity he may develop into a songwriter with compositional nous enough to render his opinion-splitting voice an even-keel element, but with it so far out in front in the mix here, Words on the Floor is remarkable only for its why-even-bother mediocrity.

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