Mega-retrospective bliss, this album from London’s Treetop Flyers, got me reminiscing…..
An expression of mixed emotions hung on my dad’s face as he sauntered past my bedroom. “What you listening to?” he grumbly enquired. He’s joined the dots between my music listening habits and his diminishing record collection, “yeah? I used to have that album….”
Property is theft for the anarchist, least this isn’t even theft, just relocated within the same household, and I’d like to think, flattery and the notion his records were getting revitalised befell my father. Not my fault this was the mid-eighties, a void between creative post-punk electronica and house, when we, the youth, were fully aware the hit factories was mugging us off with a monotonous catalogue of samey bullshit. Finding good music prior to my own days was a must, and we hadn’t YouTube, we just had these treasure chests of hand-me-down records.
Everything about Treetop Flyers’ new album, Old Habits suggests I should despise it, yet nothing could be further from the truth. The divine retrospection delivered the aforementioned fond memory; close your eyes and you can see the Ronco logo revolving at 33rpm on a mahogany music centre. My mind even sees the autochanger arm hinged aside. The only gender neutrality in the seventies was hair length; ladies played singles, men albums, big, hairy men with chest rugs you could lose a prawn cocktail in. And Old Habits could’ve nested between those long-players, not looking out of place.
This is Old Habits’ follow-up to 2018’s critically acclaimed eponymous album, which held a distinct American West Coast vibe, yet Old Habits moves away from this, guiding into the wonderous era of seventies British rock n roll pop; absorbing late mod soul, subtly hinting at psychedelia, but wallowing in Carnaby Street cool. Just like its influences, the Faces, Van Morrison, George Harrison, The Who, Ronnie Lane and Traffic, Treetop Flyers has produced a mellowed masterpiece now, which if it was recorded back then, would remain equally classic.
You will tingle akin to the saxophone riff of Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street throughout this absolutely spellbinding journey, that much I guarantee. Treetop Flyers were formed in 2013 by frontman Reid Morrison, Laurie Sherman and Sam Beer, who met whilst playing in other projects as part of the West London folk scene. I went in blind, this is their fourth studio album, I was unaware of them, I came out the other side overwhelmed with a sense bliss.
From the off, Golden Hour, the opening track sets the scene; drumbeat retrospectively sublime, the piano and guitar combo marries, vocals enchantingly cool, and the tempo of each following tune blends into another; you’ll be tingling by the second tune, Dancing Figurines, hooked by the third.
If the horn-blowing Cool Your Jets is the most upbeat and beguiling, with essences of scooter culture, Castlewood Road calibrates the whole album and brings it to an apex. It’s dripping of Curtis Mayfield, or how you’d like a later Weller song. The theme is a street on Stoke Newington which the band’s lead guitarist Laurie Sherman lives, and the accompanying video was shot in Laurie’s house. “There have been many a British song about places where people lived or grew up and this is our kinda take on that,” explains Morrison. “We spent a lot of time there over the years writing and chatting, drinking coffee listening to records etc and Laurie actually mixed the new album (Old Habits) in that house too. So, I guess it’s a love song and thank you to those walls really.”
After a couple of listens I’m determine to dive deeper into this, and come out singing the songs; if you need me, I’ll be in a beige flowery shirt flowing across an oversized belt buckle, slouching in the corner of the front-room of a house party in 1976, next to the lava lamp, bellbottoms swishing, with headphones fit for Godzilla affixed, paying attention to nothing other than this absolutely gorgeous album.
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