The most immediately obvious thing about Innes Wilson’s latest release Northumberland Slums is that the production is wildly different from song to song. I don’t mean that there’s autotune on the voice on one track and not on the next, I’m talking about something as simple as the volume being in a state constant flux. “Lovers Blues” in particular actually sounds like it was recorded in a cave under water.
And then after that, you notice that not all that much else changes between these songs. They’re not terrible and they aren’t spectacular, they’re just kind of there. Innes sings with himself in layers upon layers of double tracks, but there aren’t any actual harmonies. A harmonica shows up every now and again but remains very repetitive. The only other voice here is the rhythm guitar, and it does just that. It provides rhythm.
The record’s saving grace comes along pretty late in the game in the form of penultimate entry “These Trains Keep Going.” There’s an energy on this one that just isn’t present on most of the rest of the tracks. While the guitar playing can hardly be described as groundbreaking, it succeeds at creating the kind of effortless hook that turns nights at your local bluegrass bar into a real fun time.
Apart from that, these songs are all frustratingly mid-tempo attempts at sounding heartfelt that really end up just sounding bored. I’ll be honest, I listened to it several times and each time I zoned out, only to have my attention recaptured when the next album in Soundcloud’s rotation began. (It was always the same song: “Serious Fun” by Thesis Sahib. I highly recommend you give that track a listen, it’s a wonderful bit of electropop.)
As for this record, unfortunately, it falls into that category of music that’s really great to put on if you want to have something playing but don’t want to pay any real attention to it.
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Danielle Kenedy