Review Summary: For Tomorrow: A Guide to Contemporary British Music, 1988-2013 (Part 97)
Using music to wallow through the depths of one’s own misery is one of life’s prime pleasures. Music allows us to luxuriate in our unhappiness, let someone else tell us how miserable we are in dulcet tones as we float down our own personal river of ugh. Former Pulp guitarist turned crooner Richard Hawley mines Frank Sinatra in his Wee Small Hours
(1955) mode and vintage country and western for his own Cole's Corner
, a rich and romantic record to drown yourself to.
Hawley was a member of Pulp during their We Love Life
era and he clearly picked up Jarvis Cocker’s ability to let a chorus swell out of the arrangement rather than just smash the song into it. Album centerpiece “The Ocean”, the choice cut for aforementioned drowning activities, leans into its rich string section until its heavenly sigh pushes the refrain out to sea. “Coles Corner” observes the titular location in Sheffield as a place where “the traffic of life is flowing” yet Hawley remains distinctly separate from it, only going to attempt to “hold back the night”. Yet, as sad as Coles Corner
might sound it can actually be quite romantic. The arrangements are so rich and vibrant with strings and reverb’d guitars that you can pretty ably adapt these sad sack ‘o’ crap tunes to a pleasant occasion as well. Tempos are varied enough to prevent Coles Corner
from ever becoming a truce with the steam train shuffle of “Just Like the Rain” and “I Sleep Alone” picking things up enough without breaking mood.
ended up being a breakout moment for Hawley, if not quite commercially certainly critically as it picked up a Mercury Prize nomination and received high praise across the board. To date it remains his best known, and best, album. Give it a spin when you need some warm, downcast music to accompany your rainy day.