Treetop Flyers by Treetop Flyers – Album Review
By David Schuster
If you’re looking for a soundtrack for your late summer barbecue, look no further than Treetop Flyers, the band’s eponymous third album. Redolent of warm evenings, heavy with the sound of cicadas, it’s as sweet an accompaniment as a brioche bun to your burgers and beer.
The opening instrumental, ‘Flea Drops’ has a slow slide guitar riff, which takes me back to Roy Harper’s 1977 classic, Bullinamingvase, the archetypal musical evocation of ‘cricket on the village green’ England, a cassette version of which I literally played to death on student camping trips. In fact, there’s a deliberate 70’s West Coast vibe to the whole laid back, carefree yet slightly wistful album.
I’ve no doubt that is exactly what the London based quintet were aiming for, using vintage synthesiser noises, swirling Hammond organ and even going so far as to include a rhythmic vinyl-style on ‘Needle’. To be fair, they do it well; this is a record that feels like you’ve had it in your collection for a long time.
‘Sweet Greens & Blues’ is a good-times country rock number with Reid Morrison’s lead vocals very much in the nostalgic style of his namesake, Van’s timeless Astral Weeks. In fact, there’s a knowing acknowledgement of this later on, with the wistful acoustic guitar track ‘Astral Plane’. This is followed by the upbeat ‘It’s Hard to Understand’ which has an infectious sing-along chorus.
‘Kooky Clothes’, with its heartbreak chorus of “You don’t know me anymore, leave me alone” over twanging guitars, has the finality of an irreparable break up, the authenticity of which is rarely captured so succinctly, and which has given Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours its evergreen appeal. And, whilst we’re talking of the Mac; ‘Needle’ uses echoing slide guitar to capture the same dreamy mood as their classic instrumental ‘Albatross’.
Unfortunately, the record loses its way towards the end, the straight-up country number ‘I Knew I’d Find You’ doesn’t fit well with the overall tone, whilst ‘Door 14’ provides a downbeat and nondescript instrumental closure. Both these tracks were recorded and mixed by a different engineer, which makes me think that they were laid down at another time, with the band in a different place musically. At just over 41 minutes long, it feels like these have been included to pad an EP out to full CD length. It’s a great shame as this is otherwise an exquisite collection of songs.
The Japanese have a word, Natsukashii, meaning the happy sentimentality brought on by things which evoke old, good memories. That’s exactly what The Treetop Flyers have managed to achieve: A great album to chill out to on a lazy sunny Sunday afternoon.