Thomas White: The Maximalist album reviews

Thomas White: Vocals/Visuals/Tambourine
Andrew Mitchell: Guitar/Vocals
Alex White: Mellotron/Piano/Vocals/Tambourine
Kit Ashton: Bass/Vocals
Damo Waters: Drums/Vocals

The Maximalist came out on 15th March – complete with Lyrics – see below for quotes from reviews. Buy the album: AmazoniTunes

Thomas on The Maximalist and his tour: These things come around so fast these days. It feels like only last week I was mastering the damn thing… and now it’s out there in the cruel world, at the mercy of you hoomins. A good thing? I can but hope. Please take care of it. It is extremely fragile, and will break easily. Kid gloves, please… much as I’ve toured with a bunch of folk before, the band I have behind me right now is truly like no other. If you have any interest in what’s going on with this record, please make the trip to see us play – the whole group is seriously, intensely amazing. I’m allowed to say that… I’m just the singer. Big f***ing props to the guys. x

Visit the sites below to read the full reviews: More reviews at the Thomas White Myspace

Music Week – Record Of The Week: Thomas White – of Electric Soft Parade and Brakes fame – goes it alone again, and this second album is a blaze of kaleidoscopic, yet finely nuanced, psych-pop, from Syd Barrett-style haunted whimsy to Seventies soft rock and heavier riffing. Live he’s terrific too, with a dynamic band behind him (Martin Aston, Mojo) Rather aptly, ‘Introducing The Band’ opens proceedings mixing instrumental rock, and almost grungey guitars with understated gospel along with a progressive undertone. ‘The Last Blast’ has the feel of ‘Left’-era Hope Of The States, but surely White would take influence from something more obscure. Quite poppy with spoken lyrics almost lost in the brass-led instrumentation, it speaks volumes you clearly understand his statement: “history will remember us”. The following track, ‘Moonlight and Snow’ is where the album turns up a notch and White seems intent on bringing all his influences in to one glorious mess of a song, starting with a 60s psychedelic feel (although if Spector had listened to post-rock), it morphs in to a track that wouldn’t be out of place on Patrick Wolf’s first album and then experimental breakbeats a la Aphex Twin come to the fore. Completely unexpected but it leaves you blown away, and the classical ending is another uplifting transformation.

That it is followed up by the Clapton-style seven-minutes of ‘The Weekend’ shows the diversity of White. And you believe him when he states: “I’ll sing for my supper, I’ll drink til I’m dead, I’ll drink to the weekend”. Engrossing and intimidating, it’s to White’s credit that he turns his love of soft rock into something listenable. And yes, there is an epic solo halfway through before another joyful experimental change in tone closes the song. The atmosphere again changes with ‘Synapse Galaxy’ sounding all the world like something from Doctor Who before going all club hit. Order is restored with the almost-power ballad ‘Accidentally Like A Martyr’ really choking you up, the most straightforward song on the album, it could easily soundtrack the ending to a very cheesy film – and is all the better for it.

Thomas White’s polymathic tendencies come to the fore on this release, where he has free reign to do whatever the hell he likes whenever he wants, even if halfway through a song. The way the closing ‘…Lost’ ends with alien noises just feels completely appropriate. Free from the shackles of bandmates, he knows what he wants to sound like even although maybe a little self-indulgent, this is not necessarily a bad thing. At times soothing, others difficult but never less than experimental and exciting, it’s a challenging listen that reaps rewards. ‘The Maximalist’ may not quite gain maximum marks, but it came mighty close. White’s new solo album The Maximalist showcases the Brighton’s dude’s range of musical and artistic sensibilities acquired from a decade in the business. It’s a real mixture of styles producing a free flowing imaginative and harmonious album.

The short but aptly named ‘Introducing the Band’ is a nice signature tune that sets up the album proper. ‘Jerusalem Thorn’ starts off spacey but brings in a big band/cabaret instrumental which with the lyrics give it a gentle yet sneering mournful vibe.

‘The Last Blast’ is a frenetic energetic track again nicely fusing a big band/cabaret element giving it a grandiose flavour with some nice poignant lyrics and a funky drum roll.

‘Moonlight and Snow’ begins as a slushy sounding soft rock track but then it shows the first sign of a little White freestyling as it morphs into subtle nuances that you don’t really know where it’s going next before it moves into dance beat territory before ending up as it started. It sounds like White having fun and flexing his artistic dexterity.

‘The Weekend’ takes you on a trip where you’re not quite sure where you’ll end up. Good stuff. ‘The Devil’ mixes hippy flower power with Pink Floyd like riffs attached.

In his own words White has said that defining ‘influences is a waste of time’ citing Mama Cass ‘best to make your own kind of music’. He seems to have certainly done that with this album. Music by numbers it is not, an inventive, hugely enjoyable and serious album is what it is. The title is perfectly appropriate. White tries everything, from a paean to his home town (the haunting ‘Jerusalem Thorn’ actually lists local landmarks like a seasiding Julian Cope and White’s own snaps of The Lanes are used on the sleeve) to the sprawling multi-sectioned proggery of ‘The Weekend’. From the opening ‘Introducing The Band’ (its title a gag, for White plays every note) which cunningly bolts some Abbey Road harmonies to the riff of Big Star’s ‘In The Streets’ to the bleak collision of easy listening and techno of ‘Moonlight and Snow’, an electronic analogue of Jerry Dammers’s timeless MoR ska experiments, no style is off limits. The belting glam rock of single ‘The Last Blast’ stomps like Roxy Music at their most mindless, but lyrically refers to another 70s throwback, the now forgotten author Sven Hassel, whose faintly pornographic tales of Nazi derring-do were as popular as football among the era’s schoolboys. (Surely amateur historians BSP missed a trick here.)

Even the clutch of covers featured are songs by men known for making a living rather than a killing, Robert Pollard and Warren Zevon. The latter’s ballad ‘Accidentally Like A Martyr’ is done straight, making it sound even more incongruous on a collection already packed with sudden turns while Guided By Voices’ deceptively simple ‘Look At Them’ offers a rare pause for concision. Its sparseness fits nonetheless next to the closing ‘…Lost’, a cunning description of what happens to those who suggest “Let’s go away for a while.” English Channel Grey, this is a solo effort that should not be overlooked. (link removed due to malware warning) Thomas White probably makes a lot of people very jealous. Not only does he write and play all his own music, he produces it too. But that’s not the exciting part. We’re talking Dictaphones, old four-track cassette recorders, freeware garnered off the net and a whole host of stole and borrowed instruments and equipment to make this magnum opus.

The album in question effortlessly combines elements of shoegaze, indie, post rock, glam, punk, electronica and anything else you could care to imagine, reduces it down to a thick post-modern broth and serves with a side of self assured cool.

There are times when you swear you can hear elements of famous and influential albums, but then the originality of Thomas White’s productions (check out ‘Moonlight and Snow’), binds it all together and keeps it fresh and forward thinking. There are plenty of times during this LP that you feel the urge to applaud the CD player as if Mr White was crouched down inside it, making the magic from within.

This album is proof that you don’t need a major label, the world’s most expensive studio and an entourage of experts around you to create something truly groundbreaking, you just need vision, knowledge and style to make a mark. …he returns with ‘The Maximalist’, a stab at post-modern pop music flecked with the influences of Guided By Voices and Of Montreal, White entraps his lo-fi aesthetics whilst dabbling in a cacophony of cosmonautic electro soars. He burrows into AC/DC territory in opener ‘Introducing The Band’ and goes all instrumental on us in ‘Synapse Galaxy’ in which he then relapses into an acoustic state with ‘The Devil In A Trojan Horse’. As a whole, ‘The Maximalist’ celebrates the diversity, complexity and sheer development of White, a much sought after musician and a now very competent solo artist. Within this kaleidoscopic 56 minutes White throws in a whole range of influences. Opener ‘Introducing The Band…’ samples some hard rock riffola and portentious prog overdubs, and the album finishes with ‘…Lost’ and its grand sweep of Zombies-recalling hazy strings, contemplative electronic dreamscape undertow and nostalgic lyrics, plus a whistling solo towards the end.

For the most part White pitches his oeuvre into a West Coast psychedelia field, but in a way that keeps the attentive listener on their toes. The prime example is over the seven and a half minutes of ‘The Weekend’. The subtly shifting laid-back feel betrays a slight air of prime time Flaming Lips, or more precisely the High Llamas’ adventures in similar grounds, it’s glued together by the cornet of the album’s sole other musician, British Sea Power’s Phil Sumner. Halfway through it dissolves into slo-mo guitar soloing which fades to cut-up static and distant spoken word before re-emerging in power-pop territory.

‘The Last Blast’, apparently a treatise on WWII novelist Sven Hassel with White exhibiting a restrained anger, comes on like Weezer with a rocket up their backsides and a horde of Super Furry Animals records on the studio player. Even more, all over the place ‘Moonlight And Snow’ plays with Beach Boys harmonies and flirts with 1970s soft rock before falling into an extended break lifted from some post-Aphex Warp Records parallel universe. ‘The Devil In A Trojan Horse’ begins with Western harmonica before evolving into acoustic strumming not far from Elliott Smith, before turning, without warning, into Smashing Pumpkins distorted post-grunge guitar. Tellingly, the album’s two covers, (a Warren Zevon and Guided By Voices), are played fairly straight to their original styles. The new album is a complex soundscape with influences that span from 70s prog rockers to northern brass bands; sometimes in one track like ‘Jerusalem Thorn’. ‘Moonlight And Snow’ could be early Floyd (well to start with) but this really is “bizarre post-modern pop”.

White produced, recorded and wrote all of the songs on this album himself, apart form his cover versions of songs by Warren Zevon (‘Accidentally Like A Martyr’), Guided By Voices (‘Look At Them’) and a spoken word section taken from Dory Previn’s ‘Left Hand Lost’ on the closing track ‘…Lost’.

You’ll recall the ‘The Last Blast’ is his “dissection of the life and work of World War II novelist Sven Hassel” that features the cornet playing of Phil Sumner and it’s his playing that contributes to the best tracks; particularly the psych out synth meets horn ‘Synapse Galaxy’ with some wicked drumming.