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Thames Valley Leather Club and Other Stories

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Recensione album

Expanded in a re-release on CD some years later to include some singles from the time, Thames Valley Leather Club was Kevin Wright's first album under any name, his own or others. It's a classic él Records release from the late '80s if ever there was one — art-pop-influenced, incredibly English, and darn good. His is the only name on the credits and it appears to be a solo album in all but name, a ready equivalent to sometime labelmate Momus if not quite so constantly arch (though the title track alone betrays an evident desire to play around with sometimes rude imagery). The occasional backing female vocal ("My Honeymoon Bell," the title track) indicates some form of extra participation. Wright's easy, self-consciously affected style is definitely the center of the whole album's charm, with tracks like "Mystery Disappearance" given just a touch of John Barry dramatics and spy movie airs, suiting his style in just the right way. The jangly/keyboard combinations and sometimes thin sound of the arrangements both dates the record and places it as one of those influences that would yet crop up on later bands — one readily suspects Belle & Sebastian and Spearmint, to name two, had this album somewhere in their collections. But where Wright and company play around with other sounds in particular — the slight Cocteau Twins slow shimmer of "Amateur Detection," the sudden lovely, uplifting guitar part that concludes "Love and Death in Metroland" — all can be wonderful. The extra tracks, from the Metroland and Thames Valley Leather Club EPs, have in some cases a brighter, lusher style. "The Arcade," with Wright turning in a more commanding performance than before, and the mysterious, Middle Eastern-tinged lope of "Park Row" are two fine examples.

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Thames Valley Leather Club and Other Stories, Always
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