Songs of Green Pheasant Gyllyng Street

[FatCat; 2007]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: lo-fi folk, neo-neu-folk-rock
Others: Simon & Garfunkel, Kings of Convenience, Nick Drake

Gyllyng Street, Duncan Sumpner's latest offering under his Songs of Green Pheasant nom de plume, borrows its backbone from a steady stream of Brit-born singer/songwriters saturating the music market. With its sparse, psychedelic tendencies garnering comparison to campfire favorites like Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear, as well as the '80s-influenced production gloss and sonic manipulations, Gyllyng Street shows that Sumpner may not be as groundbreaking or untethered as many would like to believe.

For every millisecond that is reminiscent of an Avey Tare burst of creativity or a Bear/Droste collaboration, there are moments of Badly Drawn Boy or Keane found in Sumpner's tinkers. However, it's actually the latter's simpler, easier-to-consume approach that wildly blossoms throughout Gyllyng Street's seven-song run. The production is certainly cleaner, but the hushed subtleties of Gyllyng Street are thankfully retained. Without them, Gyllyng Street would be just as arid and stiff as any BDB or Keane effort.

Still, Gyllyng Street is marred by its quaintness. The sleepy lullaby of “Alex Drifting Alone” and the shoegaze pop of “King Friday” -- two of Gyllyng Street's strongest tracks -- simply do not leave lasting impressions. The problem? Sumpner has hushed his muse bored. Horns and jangling guitars become garnish rather than essential parts of a whole. You'll remember the crazed antics of Animal Collective, the explosive crescendos of Grizzly Bear, and the haunting beauty of Simon & Garfunkel, but in a year's time, it's less likely you'll be pulling out Gyllyng Street to relive any one moment.

In the end, songs like those found on Gyllyng Street just don't fare too well in a saturated market of over-the-top psychedelic collectives and twisted pop folksters. Whether warranted or not, Duncan Sumpner has the unfortunate task of competing against reified labels that he either can't keep up with -- clearly no fault of his own -- or isn't interested in to begin with. But that doesn't erase the fact that the acts he's lazily lumped with are creating music that will likely influence the next generation of tastemakers, while Gyllyng Street sounds more like an ode to the tastemakers who influenced Sumpner.

Most Read