Looper – Up a Tree

Up a Tree

Looper is indie-favorites Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart David’s new side project. He’s pretty much solo, with about five or six friends contributing, and you can tell it’s a solo effort. It has all the solo trademarks: emphasis on the singer’s vocals, similar style to every song, and extensive use of keyboards and synthesizers instead of traditional instruments. Gone is some of the pop-rock of Belle & Sebastian. Instead, you have “looping” (no pun intended) drum and synthesizer beats, harmonicas, and David’s soft vocals all over the place. The album starts off and ends with a cute, soft instrumental and a young boy’s voice saying “aw, yeah!” “Impossible Things #2” has a synthesized beat with casio keyboards and a harmonica and spoken vocals over the soft sound of a typewriter. Any song like this will always remind me of June of ’44, I think, although the music itself is totally different. “Burning Flies” has the same type of synthesized beat and keyboard, with a little sampling and scratching thrown in for good effect, and very pretty, soft lyrics. “I’m quite happy burning flies.” Interesting pastime there. The second half of the album more closely resembles a Belle and Sebastian album, with some more typical instrumentation (although the keyboards are still there), soft rhythms, and softer vocals. Some of these songs, such as “Ballad of Ray Suzuki” get long and tedious, with the feel that the harmonica or casio-style keyboards are thrown in just for novelty. Yet others have a definite low-fi (although well-produced) indie-pop style to them, made all the more fun by David’s Scottish-tinted vocals. This is a fun release, well produced with Sub Pop. It’s not as good as a good Belle and Sebastian album, but it’s different and pleasant.