Album Review: The Dowling Poole – “Bleak Strategies”
It seems like it’s rained on and off for months, but finally summer is here (well, almost). So now is the time to start asking, what about a perfect soundtrack to those long summer days? With the arrival of The Dowling Poole’s debut album Bleak Strategies, you need look no further.
If you haven’t heard of The Dowling Poole, you’ll almost certainly have heard of the founding members who put their names to the project, Willie Dowling (ex Jackdaw4, Honeycrack, The Grip) and ‘Random’ Jon Poole (ex Dr. Brighton, Cardiacs and current Wildheart). The duo first met when recording and producing Ginger Wildheart’s game changing 555% album, and having mutually appreciated each other’s musical aptitude they made the decision to work together, writing and recording the album we now know as Bleak Strategies in Dowling’s recording studio in France.
Bleak Strategies is anything but bleak, it is a wonderfully creative album, and in many respects this is to be expected from two musicians of such pedigree. Think shiny happy psychedelic power pop, with influences from the likes of The Kinks, 10CC and Sgt. Pepper’s era Beatles to name but a few.
The album opener The Sun Is Mine is a fantastic laid back song, with vocal harmonies aplenty, really setting the precedent for the rest of the record, and deserving to be one of the hits of the summer. Both Dowling and Poole are on great form and the ear worms just keep on coming, A Kiss On The Ocean (“I never thought I’d love you as much as I do today/no way, hozay”) and Hey Stranger are both incredibly catchy, well written and guaranteed to be stuck in your head for days.
Then there are tracks like Empires, Buildings and Acquisitions, a real favourite of mine – like a brilliant Jackdaw4 number with added country, progressive and psychedelic elements, taking you in unexpected directions throughout its radio-friendly sub-four minute runtime.
Another track I should mention is album closer Clean, the soundtrack to a bizarre video on their Pledge Music page involving a mannequin named Edwina being, quite literally, cleaned. The song itself is a real corker with great melody and a truly awesome vocal performance by Givvi Flynn.
Bleak Strategies is a psychedelic power pop experience which blasts you with aural sunshine goodness. Superbly produced and with fantastically written and performed songs, this should be the soundtrack to your summer.