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Amateur Best No Thrills Review

Album. Released 2013.  

BBC Review

Really lovely LP from the artist formerly trading as Primary 1.

Mike Diver 2013

In a classic case of deceptive first impressions, No Thrills opens with its lead single, Ready for the Good Life, and instantly underwhelms.

A peppy production evocative of Everything Everything with the twitchiness turned down, it’s a polished but unremarkable introduction.

But stick with this 10-tracker, please, as while its first number isn’t the most arresting of curtain-ups, what comes afterwards is entirely captivating.

Amateur Best – aka Joe Flory, who once traded under the moniker of Primary 1 when signed to Atlantic – develops the palette of No Thrills as early as its second cut, Too Much.

Here, the music swells and sighs like Hot Chip’s more understated creations. Midway, parping brass crashes into the mix, before Flory resets his machines and the track cruises, effortlessly, into the memory banks.

Flory’s vocals are, typically, curiously affecting, reminiscent of Paul Buchanan and Mark Hollis. A deliciously deadpan aspect permeates the likes of In Time and The Wave. On the latter, he almost summons the peerless nonchalance of an ice-cool Bowie.

There’s a fizziness to Pleased that’ll have minds of a certain age spinning back to 16-bit Sega games – there’s a distinct temptation to Green Hill zone out to it, and more contained herein.  

Bursts of lyrical optimism are refreshing, too. Be Happy questions: “If it’s already happened / Then why should I care?” Titles like Ready for the Good Life and Pleased express a mindset that’s more sunny than not.

Even when Flory explores the disappointment of missed opportunities on Get Down – “I could have been someone else… But it’s not what I need” – a swinging, synth-y squeezebox accompaniment ensures it’s not an entirely morose moment.   

Fans of Matthew Dear, NZCA/Lines and Late of the Pier will find plenty to love in these arrangements, detailed as they are with sparkling, immediate electronics. The most beautiful track, Walk in Three, is a delicate drone that feels like a lost Blue Nile number. 

By titling his debut album (under this guise) No Thrills, Flory is selling his talent tremendously short. More like this and he should seriously consider going professional.

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