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Album Review

by Luke Buda

Arch Hill

Review Date
8th December 2008
Reviewed by
M. Stewart

Luke Buda has spent nearly a decade now making music with the Phoenix Foundation, guesting on his friends solo records and releasing his own solo output - Vesuvius being the second record under his own name. This latest one finds him working with a few familiar cohorts, notably Lee Prebble (engineering and production) and Sam Scott (vox, songwriting on 'My imminent Demise')

As a result, Vesuvius isn't what you'd call a massive departure from his earlier work. Tunes like the opener, 'Crystal Ham' and the aforementioned 'My Imminent Demise' would sit perfectly on a Phoenix foundation record, even in spite of 'C.H.' being the product of a collaboration with James Milne (Reduction Agents, Laurence Arabia). This ain't such a terrible thing however, The Phoenix's have achieved the success they have for a reason....

There are explorations into languid McCartney-esque pop - which other reviewers seem to have really gone to town on, gentle Harvest-era Neil Young echoes (The Wasp) and the final two songs are all over Pink Floyd. Personally though, Luke's (and I'm guessing Lee's too) primary fixation seems to be the last two decent Cars records and a shit ton of 70's soft pop. Tight layered vocal harmonies, gentle synth strings and hugely processed drums are everywhere here, and my god they've done a fearsome replication of the soft pop especially. Having said that, this is probably where the record falls flat. The super lush reverbs, smooooooth compression and the huge layering of instruments smother any personality, especially during the more heart on sleeve moments. I'd love to hear 'Empty Eyes, Generous Thighs' done live to air say...

In spite of the grandeur, Luke's songwriting is consistently good and Vesuvius is by no means a dud. 'Wrapped up', where Buda's voice is allowed to drive the song illustrates this wonderfully. It'll make a great summer album for most and will do you very well if all you want to do for the next few months is sit somewhere quiet under a tree with a ghettoblaster and an ice cold alcoholic accompaniment.

M. Stewart

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