This ‘Urvanovic’ article was written by Richard Holmes, a GIGsoup contributor

‘Amateurs’ is the debut album from Scottish 7-piece Urvanovic. Self-described as ‘noisy stringy synth singy pop’, Amateurs is a sweet blend of chamber pop and folk with a pinch of electronica and finished off with some introspective duets from singers Tom Irvine and Seonald Stevenson. Having built up a solid background on the live circuit, Amateurs allows them to introduce themselves officially…

We begin with ‘Open Ground’. Possessing a thoughtful and anthemic atmosphere, it sets a tone and mood for which the rest of the record follows. It’s an album packed with gentle ballads and charming Scottish folk sentimentality, presented with contemporary instrumentation. As a whole, it’s an interesting production. Sometimes demonstrating some really imaginative ideas, but often it’s just far too *ahem* amateur… Irvine’s vocals repeatedly feel out of place, coming across as a too lacklustre, casually left on top of grand arrangements. The dynamic range of the album is also very frustrating at times; at points you simply can’t hear what’s going on. The album’s opener, ‘Open Ground’ is a perfect example of this.

‘Think Fast’ demonstrates Urvanovic’s capacity for producing an accomplished pop song. It’s catchy, melodic, well arranged and ever so slightly wistful. Unfortunately, this is one of the few shining moments on the record. Before a friendly instrumental break in the shape of ‘Pollen’, Amateurs signs off with ‘The Mine’ and  ‘The Worry Trail’, the latter of which is a certainly a solid ending but doesn’t give you anything to hold on to.

Considering the arrangements and style, it’s easy to draw comparisons to the likes of Penguin Café Orchestra and Belle & Sebastian, who master this area to perfection. It’s certainly in the same vein, and Urvanovic’s effort does work well. Casiotone-esque electronics and lush strings are blended well amid a folk background. However, you feel Urvanovic are more than capable of exploring this further. There are some really good sonic foundations, some excellent musicianship and some delightful, uplifting songwriting here, but it’s lacking character and a definitive direction, and unfortunately most tracks follow a similar outline. It’s all a little too predictable. Coming soon to a Natwest advert near you.

‘Amateurs’ is out now via Survivalist. The track-listing for the album is as follows…

‘Open Ground’

‘Waterworks’

‘Bubblewrap’

‘Onomatophobia’

‘Think First’

‘Warrens’

‘Pollen’

‘The Mine’

‘The Worry Trail’

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2.5*

 

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