omesongs is the debut album from Adem Ilhan of Fridge, a post-rock threesome that are probably best known outside their immediate families and the Putney intelligentsia as the day job of Kieren “Four Tet” Hebden. And although I was certainly aware of Fridge before I’d had a chance to listen to any of Hebden’s solo project, it’s safe to say that Four Tet’s achievements now dwarf those of his origins. It may even be that future billboards for Fridge could read along the lines of “Kieren Hebden and band” or “Tonight, for one night only: Hebden’s Fridge!”
But hang on there…’cos there’s more than one member of Fridge harboring secret desires that can only be fulfilled through “the solo project”. So here we have Homesongs from Adem; bass player with Fridge by day, but by night…errr, something else. Like Four Tet, Homesongs paints from a more organic palette than Fridge. Unlike Four Tet, though, it’s pretty *exclusively* organic/acoustic: you won’t find any examples of the “folktronica” that’s been (inaccurately) used to describe Hebden’s sound. Instead, you get an album of husky voices and delicately played instruments that, at its best, is as warm and comforting as a sun-drenched blanket after a cold swim. Consisting of little more than guitar, hand-held (as opposed to foot-held, of course) percussion and some wheezy sounding keyboards, this album effortlessly manages to conjure up the sounds of secret jam sessions heard issuing from locked-up pubs at the end of dark alleys, a living tapestry of the sleepy, contented hours of empty streets and sparse minicabs when your hierarchy of needs has long since been reduced to “bed”. At its best, it gets close to the wonderful immediacy that Uncle Tupelo were able to conjure up on “Screen Door” from their debut album, a recording wherein the ambient surroundings of the players was as important as the song itself.
First song “Statued” is pretty much as good as it gets, Ilhan deftly describing a scene of a couple caught in the elements, pausing, desiring of some power to “let this be a moment…that you won’t forget all your life….’til you die”. The track resonates with the need to extract meaning out of minutiae that anyone who’s read too much Raymond Carver suffers from, but that’s OK. “Statued” is pretty and desolate in equal measures, and the rest of the album is at its best when its living up to its example. Not everything works, though; “Everything you Need” is merely decent, an example of how to fix something that ain’t broken through the addition of too many extra instruments to the detriment of Ilhan’s voice and guitar. And, incidentally, the boy really *has* got a voice; for someone who admitted that Fridge were an instrumental band “because none of us could sing”, he’s actually a fine 4 AM croaker, able to convey emotion in the same sparse manner that I thought only Roger Moore’s eyebrows were capable of. A good and often great debut; that “Pillow” ends with the first few notes of “Jingle Bells” only adds to its aura of a late night longing for the dawn.
Reviewed by: Dave McGonigle
Reviewed on: 2004-04-09