The feel-good album of the year so far? Quite possibly.
Mike Haydock 2009
The Voluntary Butler Scheme hail from Stourbridge, just outside Birmingham, and are really just a he – Rob Jones, a man who used to drum for several bands before deciding to write some songs for himself. And what songs they are.
At Breakfast, Dinner, Tea is Jones’ debut album, and he put large portions of it together in his bedsit. There’s a simple charm about the indie folk tunes on display here, all packed with melody and sparkling with ingenuity. It reminds you of the first time you heard Badly Drawn Boy’s The Hour of Bewilderbeast: it’s upbeat and warm, but also surprisingly coy and playful.
Jones’ talent lies in blending together a variety of influences which infuse his one-man-band sounds with twinkling magic. There’s just as much Motown, Jackson 5, Beach Boys and Beatles in here as there is indie, and the whole concoction can’t help but make you tap your feet and raise a smile.
Jones also has a wicked line in witty lyrics, and you can picture sun-drenched festival crowds crooning along with lines such as “Gonna get my hair cut even if I have to cut it myself” on Multiplayer, or “I overdo it every time / Like a TV chef adding too much seasoning” on The Eiffel Tower & The BT Tower – a fantastic song about obsessing over “a girl I can’t ignore”.
It all adds up to a remarkable package, announcing the arrival of a special talent who can turn the introspections of a young man’s mind into intelligent, catchy melodies. The feel-good album of the year so far? Quite possibly.