Sometimes a well-produced pop record simply hits the spot. After rummaging through plenty of indie rock records that felt contrived and lifeless, I revisited Wicked Man's Rest, the debut full-length from Brighton's /Passenger. Coming from a radio background, I simply can't help myself when stumbling upon music that (in an ideal world) falls under pop perfection, making it perfect for radio audiences with a taste for interesting yet accessible songs. This is what /Passenger does so well, walking that fine line between credible rock and accessible pop without even a single stumble.
Frontman Rosenberg harnesses the vocal stylings of a higher pitched David Gray, filled with heartfelt melody as he opens up the album with its title track. The chilled-out vibe will fit perfectly with fans of South's more recent records, easily melding the worlds of acoustic guitars and subtle electronic beats. This leads to one of my favorite cuts on the disc, the toe-tapping "Night Vision Binoculars." The folk-pop track contains one of the catchiest hooks I've heard in a while, as Rosenberg sings "I just want to walk you home / I just need some time alone."
The album springs to life again on "Do What You Like," taking on a slightly more aggressive tone than many of the lighter cuts on Wicked Man's Rest. It is moments such as this where pinning a label or perfect comparison to /Passenger's sound is unbelievably difficult, although that is totally fine with me. It is refreshing to hear a pop record like this, which has such a broad spectrum of influences that it truly has a sound of its own.
From the jangly "Four Horses" to the stunning "For You," Wicked Man's Rest is an unpredictable and refreshing record that cleverly masks some pretty dark material as upbeat pop. I am sure that some people will turn up their noses at /Passenger's (at times) slick pop, which is a shame, as there are some great musical moments on this disc. Sure, it may be cool to hate on similar artists such as Coldplay or Snow Patrol, and those are the people who will be missing out on an absolute gem.
MP3 Download - "Do What You Like"