The Dowling Poole have released a brace of albums over the past few years, and this one is a compilation of tracks that have only previously existed in a digital format but now are available as a physical CD.
Formed in 2013, they consist of Willie Dowling (formerly of Jackdaw4, Honeycrack and The Grip) and Jon Poole, most notably of Cardiacs (somewhere there’s a meme of Sean Bean gravely intoning “One does not simply play with Cardiacs”) leaving more than his mark on their magnum-opus, ‘Sing to God’.
It’s Refuse the noun rather than the verb if you were wondering but there’s nothing throwaway here. This is a collection of psychedelic power-pop with enough twists and turns to keep you on your toes.
Influences abound but never outstay their welcome. There are echoes of Super Furry Animals (‘Bright Spark’), Skylarking-era XTC (‘The Same Mistake Again’) and sometimes a feel of those intriguing ill-fated mid-70s bands like Be-Bop Deluxe, The Motors and Doctors of Madness who suddenly found themselves straddling two train carriages uncoupling.
‘Bricks From the Wall’ has a strident Oingo Boingo swagger about it, and elsewhere it could be latter-day Sparks (‘Push Repeat’) or a fleeting nod to ELO.
Sometimes it’s just great songwriting like ‘Fuck You Goodbye’ with no acrobatics or flourishes to cloud the sentiment. And then Russian doll numbers like ‘Miles Checks Out’ with its laid-back ‘Oliver’s Army’ piano and ‘You’re So Vain’ verse that suddenly drags you down a Gene Wilder boat ride of flashing lights.
‘Deep Breath’ begins awash with 10CC harmonies and slowly morphs into a Faith No More chorus before terminating with tinkly Cardiacs kindergarten sinistery-ness that builds the intensity and orchestration.
Some albums tiresomely claim to require effort and they’ll reward you for your persistence. Not so this one. It slaps you ’round the face with joy from the first listen, and then just keeps getting better.