Manchester songwriter Matthew Lewis is the antidote to that city’s angrier side, albeit for all the songs other than the opener to his debut album which lampoons the modern gig attendee as ‘bastards’ for talking over acoustic guitarists. Whomever they might be…
It would be untrue to describe the rest of the album as free from such resentment though the mood is noticeably lighter once that particular spleen is vented. “Strawberry Kisses” is robust, direct, a stripped down collection that hints at his indie and alt.rock roots whilst merrily wandering down paths largely of his own furrowing.
The very best moments here are Lewis at his most fragile, “Batter Up” and “She” being clear examples, “Sunny Side Up” deliciously implicit in its barbed romance as it attentive upon pop melodies.
Although largely free-flowing, when the brakes are applied it’s straight into the wall; the attempts at solemnity struggle to convince, consequence of an almost complete absence of other instruments. Given these limitations, the standard is exceptionally high; there’s no flippant diary-writing angst and influences remain bedded down rather than fully grown.
There is an engrossing quality here, one which should quieten the target for abuse in the first song; if it all goes well, he may not have to play it anymore.
“Strawberry Kisses” is out now at jealousofgirls.co.uk