Lyrics buried in monotony

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 August, 2008, 12:00am

British artist Neil Halstead's Oh! Mighty Engine is not the sort of album to immediately excite listeners. Currently touring with Jack Johnson, Halstead undeniably boasts musical flair, but the singer still needs to learn a thing or two about variation.

The album opens with the title track, introducing Halstead's mellow voice and distinctive lyrical talents. The song, though sombre, suggests there are good things yet to come.

Unfortunately this is not the case. A lot of the songs sound nearly identical.

Perhaps the worst culprit is ironically-named No Mercy for the Muse, which is painfully reminiscent of all that has gone before it and has a monotony worth only of lift music.

There is some relief. The upbeat Queen Bee ensures all attention is on Halstead's one-of-a-kind lyrics rather than the less-than-exemplary melodies.

The album redeems itself with Paint a Face. While it sticks to the same familiar tone of the rest of the album, the supporting bass, piano and drums enliven the track, making it the highlight.

Don't listen to this in isolation. Halstead's songs are best listened to with your eyes closed, added to a playlist on shuffle. Then you can focus on the brilliant lyrics and forget that the tunes sound the same.