Almost Charlie - the Plural of Yes

Words On Music
(WM26-2: 656605958323)
Release date: 05/19/2009
Genre: Indiepop

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Signposts: The Beatles, Elliott Smith, Belle and Sebastian, Nick Drake, Kings of Convenience.

WORDS ON MUSIC presents THE PLURAL OF YES, the North American debut release by Berlin, Germany’s ALMOST CHARLIE. The record’s 13 compositions, a cunning blend of gifted melodies and chamber pop atmospherics, are the inimitable offspring of a transatlantic songwriting duo who, to this day, have never met. Berlin-based singer-guitarist Dirk Homuth answered an Internet ad in early summer 2003 from New York City lyricist Charlie Mason, who was searching for a composer.

ALMOST CHARLIE was born and with it a strict division of lyricist and composer that brings to mind classic songwriting teams like BURT BACHRACH/HAL DAVID. THE PLURAL OF YES reveals Homuth to be a connoisseur of timeless pop craftsmanship – distilling the heady years of AM-radio splendor, from BACHRACH to THE BEATLES, into 13 addicting indie-pop coated pills. The chilling strings that escort the coda of the album’s deceptively dark opening track, “Everyone Deserves to Love,” gently foreshadow ALMOST CHARLIE’s love affair with smart, sweeping orchestration. This orchestration is put on full display in the subsequent piano-led track, “Love Condensed,” an elegant 3/4-metered ballad that deftly demonstrates the warmth and charm of Homuth’s voice. Homuth allows his mid-60s BEATLES influences to shine on upbeat tracks such as “Leaving Is Easy,” with its chopping quarter-note guitar chords and cooing backing vocals. Traces of JOHN LENNON percolate throughout the record, such as on the 6/8-metered ballad “For the Both of Us.” On quieter, acoustic affairs, Homuth flirts with KINGS OF CONVENIENCE (“Beyond and Above”), early BELLE AND SEBASTIAN (“So Far and Yet So Near”), and ELLIOTT SMITH (“Formerly Smilin’ Jack”). The album-closing title track is a string-laden acoustic composition in the spirit of BRYTER LAYTER-era NICK DRAKE.

Underscoring such fragility and self-doubt, ALMOST CHARLIE puts its stamp on one of 2009’s essential works in indie-pop. In an era characterized by self-involved personalities with dubious abilities, rare has so much authenticity and talent been packed into such a digestible musical souvenir.

1. Everyone Deserves to Love, 2. Love Condensed, 3. Leaving Is Easy, 4. Beyond and Above, 5. The Monster and Frankenstein, 6. So Far and Yet So Near, 7. In Another Life, 8. For the Both of Us, 9. The World is Full of Supermen, 10. Will You Still Be Here, 11. Empty Heart, 12. Formerly Smilin' Jack, 13. The Plural of Yes

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