Ricky – You Set The Scene

Ricky are four teenagers (plus a currently temporary drummer) from Portsmouth, England, and this 6 song CD is their debut release on their own Bod The Mod label. Unsurprisingly given their age they are inspired by Britpop era bands, such as Oasis and The Bluetones, but their sound actually owes more to their other main musical love, Sixties pop, especially Buffalo Springfield, Love and The Byrds. They are no mere copiests though.

Opening track Mise-En-Scene is the most unusual song on the CD as the lyrics don’t start until over a minute in, and there is no real chorus. The main vocal hook is a series “ba-ba-bas” and “oo-wee-oos”. Musically it starts with a strummed acoustic guitar before electric guitar, bass and drums kick in. The arpeggio electric guitar line is especially impressive, having an almost hypnotic quality. This is definitely not your average pop song and makes for a very impressive opening track.

Second track Maybe Together is much more of a straightforward pop song, but still manages to be far from average due to its quality. Again it opens with an acoustic strum, but this time it is joined by some backwards electric guitar. Then the vocals come in and everything builds to the chorus, which is instantly memorable, with drums and backing vocals joining in. It is just a great, catchy pop song and there are plenty of neat touches such as the arpeggio electric guitar break after the first chorus and the way it slows down before the second chorus.

Summer Almanac is the simplest of the six tracks, consisting of just strummed acoustic guitars and vocals. Despite this it still has great energy, and the pace is varied cleverly and backing vocals are added in places to great effect.

Morning Sunshine sees a return to the full band sound and opens with twin electric guitars, one strummed and one played arpeggio. From there vocals come in and then everything builds to the chorus, which features strummed acoustic guitars and some excellent drumming and sounds wonderful, really filling the room. The chorus is gloriously uplifting and on its own is enough to win you over, so add in the excellent guitar work, neat percussion touches and excellent backing vocals and you have a classic pop song. There is also a curious musical stutter (sorry if that doesn’t make any sense, but if you heard the song I think you would know what I mean – I cannot recall hearing anything like it before) just before the chorus, which again shows the band’s ability to put little touches into the songs that lifts them above the average.

How Does It Feel? is the track which has the difficult task of following Morning Sunshine and it fairs well. It starts with a combination of strummed acoustic guitars, vocals and backwards electric guitars. Drums and jangly electric guitars then before building to the chorus, which again is instantly memorable. Overall it is a very impressive track, with great energy and a good hook, but it doesn’t quite reach the heights of some of the other tracks.

Given how good the first five tracks are it is hard to believe things could get any better, but the closing track The Kick Inside is actually my favourite, and makes me wish I was a good enough writer to do it justice. It starts with backwards electric guitars, followed by vocals, drums and an arpeggio electric guitar line. The drumming and guitar work on the verses are excellent, but it is the chorus that really stands out. It is driven by strummed acoustic guitars and features some excellent harmony vocals and everything combines to create a chorus that is both wonderfully uplifting and instantly memorable.

Overall I think this a great (mini)album, and it is my most listened to release of the year. There is no disclaimer necessary about the band members’ ages, or the fact that it is a debut, this is a great pop record period.

Whilst the band are quite open about their influences they have managed to create a set of songs that sound fresh and alive.

[Released by Bod The Mod Record 2002]

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