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A Word In Your Ear

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Album Review

A Word in Your Ear continues the rolling pastoral lilt of If You Happy With You Need Do Nothing, but Alfie's first album of entirely new material isn't as cohesive as their EP collection. They still sound like one of the few bands of their generation who might pick up the pieces left behind by the Stone Roses or the La's, but the style-surfing and polished edges at work here make for at least a half-step in the wrong direction. Three of the album's first four songs are true charmers. On these tracks, it's evident that the U.K. press has vocalist Lee Gorton pegged correctly as the heir apparent to Ian Brown and Tim Burgess. The pristine, elegant "A Word in Your Ear," "Cloudy Lemonade," "Halfway Home," and "Summer Lanes" see him crooning and sneering with ease and confidence. His bandmates keep pace on these highlights, matching newly crowned folk-rock gods Gorky's Zygotic Mynci in subtlety and texture. But elsewhere there's mild trouble brewing: "Not Half" is a lapse into the Paul McCartney-hero-worship territory of Ben & Jason, "Bends for 72 Miles" and "Rain Heaven Hail" rely on atmosphere instead of songwriting prowess as they dip into the overly ornamental realm of the Elephant 6 collective, and "The Lighthouse Keeper" grasps for areas so coy they might be even out of reach for the Clientele. A Word in Your Ear definitely has as it moments, and one would guess that a number of its songs could do well as singles, especially since they seem overproduced in such a way as to be as radio-friendly as possible. But Alfie will have to continue to seek their own muse and shy away from accessibility if they want to join the ranks of classic Manchester bands of days gone past.


Formed: Manchester, Lancashire, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s

The Manchester quintet Alfie (singer Lee Gorton, guitarist Ian Smith, cellist Matt McGeever, bassist Sam Morris, and drummer Sean Kelly), came about in the late '90s after Gorton became increasingly fed up with the local music scene -- when most bands at the time were merely rehashing Oasis songs. The band caught a break with their very first show when the U.K. publication NME was doing an article on several different British music scenes, and happened to come upon the new group, reviewing the show...
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A Word In Your Ear, Alfie
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