|Arriving via Mush Records, Tender Is The Night is the debut long-player from Manchester’s Pierre Hall AKA Golden Glow, and comprises a selection of demos whose stripped-back style led them to become the official versions of his tracks, after it was decided that the naive, raw style of the recordings added to the charm of his project. The album was conceived after a serious motorcycle crash made Hall housebound and unable to walk for six months. Eventually, due to his growing online presence, resulting from his time spent at home, a demo ended up on the hands of The Drums guitarist and keyboardist Jacob Graham, which led to a set at The Drums album launch.|
Though the argument that the demos may work in their own right may hold some water, the problems with Tender Is The Night are apparent from the outset: mainly a horrendously cheap-sounding drum machine that really should have been replaced on the final version of the album. Opener ‘Adore Me’ is a strong, post-punk slice of urgency, but over the course of a whole album the non-production becomes somewhat unbearable. Of course, one man’s ‘naive charm’ is another man’s ‘gaudy naffness’ and though it is indeed difficult not to empathise with the plight of Hall, or see the music from the context in which it was recorded, the majority of songs are killed stone dead by the flat, sterile, toylike beats carrying them through.
Hall’s guitar playing is warm, melodic, jangly, C86-esque stuff and his voice has an endearing, if simple, innocence to it. Musically, it recalls the most warmhearted and melancholic guitar-pop released in the last 35 years: Felt (from whose ‘Sunlight Bathed The Golden Glow’ his moniker derives from), mid-eighties pop-era Cure (who share their name with track three here), Talulah Gosh and early Charlatans, whilst the harder and more angular edges recall Joy Division and Television. When Hall moves away from the lovelorn jangliness, things do become more interesting. ‘The Blizzard’ could be a foreboding piece of semi-instrumental drama with better production, and ‘On My Own’ brings some evocative-sounding pads to the table.
‘All Time’ would arguably work better with no percussion at all, given its Hawley-esque croon and stirring chord pattern, whilst ‘Books’ has a shimmering romance to it, which would be more convincing were its vocals not, like several tracks here, swamped in an amount of reverb that simply drowns the song and only serves to highlight the limitations of Hall’s vocal abilities. Admittedly, Hall does make good use of the presumably inexpensive equipment and physical confinements available to him at the time, and it doesn’t take much to imagine how powerful the likes of ‘At A Loss’ could be if they were recorded properly.
The playing is adequate more or less throughout, even if the songwriting is pretty generic jangly, twee-pop from the outset, but if ever there was a case to take your music from the bedroom into the studio before unleashing it onto the world, it’s made consistently during Tender Is The Night, mainly via those domineering ‘drums’. You can see how it works as a statement, given the background, but it doesn’t half make for a frustrating listen. Given that Hall has a live band assembled, it doesn’t even seem to be a case of making the most of what you have.
All in all, it’s an interesting document, but to see it as an official album seems to be pushing it a bit. As a an artistic statement, the D.I.Y. approach is hardly the most revolutionary or forward-thinking concept in music. Lyrically, there’s not a great deal of note going on here either (“You see that you’d call me, oh baby when you’re free, but I’m just so lonely, the phone don’t ring, see”, “When I see you walking down the street, you’re the kind of girl I’d like to meet” – despite the circumstances it was conceived in, and titles like ‘Locked Inside’, ‘On My Own’ and ‘Retreat’, it’s hardly the deepest exploration of the depths the human experience can slip to). Tender Is the Night really would have benefitted from a trip to the studio, and one suspects the message and concept could have only been enhanced. - Musos Guide