| A child's voice calls.
"Hey, where are you going?"
We don't know about you, but we're heading for the Treehouse.
The treehouse in this case is a metaphoric one, 'home' of cut-and-paste pop phenomenon Looper. Fronted by Stuart David (erstwhile bassist of a little Scottish band you may have heard of), and aided by a series of cameo appearances by friends and relations, Looper is the sort of Partridge family-esque collective you'd actually like to hang out with.
Maybe like us you first became aware of Looper's ample talents on the Impossible Things 7", released on Sub Pop in the US last summer. It featured on the flipside a superior version of the song "Spaceboy Dream," a track from Belle & Sebastian's last album The Boy With The Arab Strap. But it was the a-side that really made this one of our favourite singles of last year. An intro consisting of typewriter keys leads you into a wonderful tale of true love--with the Royal Mail playing cupid. Stuart's voice rarely seems more than a whisper as he tells the story of how a boy and girl meet by writing letters to each other. The intimate tone is appropriate, because surreal though it may seem, this is the true story of how he and Karn were 'introduced.' The whole thing gives the listener a profound feeling of empathy for the couple, something that's always lacking in the bombastic ballads of isolation and pain you're meant to relate to.
'Hmmm,' you must be thinking, 'Scottish spoken word--sounds suspiciously like Arab Strap.' But this is not so! Firstly, every song on Up a Tree, Looper's debut album, has a discernible melody and intelligible lyrics. And the stories Stuart tells are the west of Scotland equivalent of Texan cowboy campfire yarns: vivid and a tad exaggerated, but nonetheless utterly honest and believably compelling. Allow us to continue, if you will, with our pathetic Blazing Saddles analogy. Picture Aidan, fuelled by a buckfast too many, falling face first into the smouldering embers after recounting his last sweary tale of gritty realism. This conveniently leaves Stuart to preside over his turntables and TV screens, leading us into the world of characters like Dave the moon man, who after scouring the Internet for evidence is convinced that no one has ever actually landed on the moon. Stuart also recalls a chance encounter with esteemed TV detective Columbo, whose suspicious curiosity is apparently piqued by Looper's sampling technology. For a man who confesses that he rarely watches TV in "Burning Flies," Stuart seems to have captured perfectly Columbo's quirky manner.
There's a balance in the treetops when Stuart David is there. Sometimes the stories take centre stage; on other tracks, the sample-driven beats are all that's needed to round out a complete song. Songs like "The Ballad of Ray Suzuki," which features a series of repeated samples, are placed between the more elaborate narrative tracks, helping to strike a balance between pure sound and pure storytelling. This fusion of patchwork noises and brilliant lyrics makes Looper stand out on its own, and the album deserves to appeal to a broader audience than just Belle and Sebastian fans.
The Geometrid Looper Website