the boo radleys always seemed destined to remain in the shade, despite a brief flirtation with the charts (thanks to britpop). having infiltrated the airwaves with their celebratory 'wake up boo' single they, almost immediately, disappeared from view as they strived to find a home for their vision of guitar based pop, underlined by true sonic invention. as the hits soon died off so did the band, with leader martin carr calling time on proceedings in 1999 and retreating into a period of self-imposed seclusion.

but despite disappearing from public view it seems as though the lad has kept himself busy. having released the mini-album, 'the fingertip saint sessions volume 1', closely followed by, 'go with yourself' ('fingertip saint sessions volume 2'), his debut album proper under his bravecaptain persona, it seems as though carr hasn't lost his touch for exquisite melody and heartfelt song writing.

as he takes the stage in front of a half full venue with all the gusto and passion of a man determined to prove his ability, it's hard to believe that his efforts have been largely overlooked despite critical acclaim. standing in front of a paisley backdrop and surrounded by a full band, complete with horn section, he seems completely at ease with his new found position as the captain of a brave ship with its course set for familiar yet uncharted waters.

without relying on his recently released output he seems content to prove to his doubters wrong and stake his claim as a prolific and underrated talent. showcasing a plethora of unreleased material with great assurance he veers from whimsical psychedelia to esoteric drum and bass stylings with the greatest of ease. 'hermit versus the world' is irresistible with its doe-eyed wonder, underpinned by some fancy brass action and a distinctly melancholic edge. new track, 'the sound of wichita', with its heavy percussion and catchy as hell guitars showcases an artist in full control of his destiny.

add to that the dreamy psyche of 'where is my head?' and you can't help but think that if he dropped his trademark cagoule and spectacles for some facial hair and a tea cosy hat he may well have been a contender for the mercury prize and greater public acclaim. it surely is only a matter of time before this particular captain steers his vessel in the direction of a receptive and welcoming ocean.

review by rwm (for dotmusic)

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