This is a review of "Spiralling Paper Planes" recorded by Itch. The review was written by Sam Saunders in 2001.
What a great opening. The first 35 seconds of "All our so called bad luck stories" are fresh young and just fantastic. A perfect genius of a bass line and the simplest neatest setting you ever heard. The song itself builds really well, and keeps piling in with sharp and original ideas.
"If you ignore him he will go away" isn't quite so assured, but it has some delicious passages. John Darke on bass guitar is definitely my player of the month. He plays simple but tuneful riffs that do the necessary low end work, but add a catch to the proceedings that gives it all a real lilt.
"Spiralling paper planes" has some strange rhythmic indecisiveness - at points it sounds like well-played drum exercises cut up and stuck back together in a random order. The cute charm of the band is still there though. It's inventive and lightly tuneful. Three minutes six seconds in we get some very tidy guitar riffing.
But four minutes in it starts to go a bit loose, and the natural pop song base is chucked completely out of the window - quite a lot of the baby going with it as it gets all "rock", and tedious with it. At nearly seven minutes it turns mercifully into another song altogether - "Know idea my dear".
This has a lovely string part (sounds like something to do with John Darke again?) in the low region. No strings are credited, so it could be a sample from a film (which is given a credit). This slower song brings back my confidence in this bands' creative talent - a belief constantly refreshed as a I replay the intro to "All our so called bad luck stories". Speech and sound effects are mixed in and the whole thing works really well.
There are two problems. Mike Milner's voice is OK-ish when he sings, but at regular intervals he seems to lose confidence and breaks suddenly and horribly into a thin shouting monotone that has no volume and no expressive power. It might be the trick that makes him a star. But it irritates me to death and the sudden pain of it cuts across whatever else the band seem to be doing at the time. The other problem is much less important. The name "Itch" has been used before. Lots of times.
The true-life comic strip curly haired love affair CD cover is perfect. A desirable thing to own.