I’m just not sure about this album. There were times when I thought that “Inhale…Exhale…OK, Now You Can Panic” was a very cleverly executed pastiche of the anodyne music frequently found in the cabaret section of any of the urban festivals that infest our dearly beloved planet but there were times when there were signs of a beating heart too.
Let’s consider the evidence. There’s the cover art for a start. A goldfish out of water and an asthma inhaler? A statement of intent perhaps? Then there were those relentlessly one note vocal performances by Keith Thomson. The widespread reinvention of other people’s musical styles all the way from ska to Britpop. The fact that every song is immaculately performed yet there are no examples of sterling virtuosity anywhere. In simple terms, not one top of the range stuck in your mind for a week guitar solo. It’s not looking good for The Penny Black Remedy.
On the other side of the fence – the side where the soul survives - Marijana Hajdarhodzic successfully sets “You’ll Thank Me in the Morning” smouldering with passion. How about the lush sixties MOR style harmonies that transform “Up To My Neck in a Hex” into a song that transcends the limits of the variety show? The talent is clearly there.
Then the penny drops. This album is just a bit too clever for its own good and it's a clear case of too much intellect and not enough heart. That’s the final verdict.