I have only just discovered the Norwegian "St Thomas" and I am annoyed that it has taken me so long. This new release from the City Slang stable is a real gem.
The album opens with the wonderfully laid back and very catchy "Long Long Time". The country guitars and falsetto vocal slide along and sit themselves next to you and make you think "This album is going to be a real grower".
Then when you have started to draw your own comparisons to the sound of the band (and probably come up with all the names that I did - early REM, Beck, Neil Young et al), "45 Seconds" comes on.... is that Robert Wyatt guesting on the album? No.
"Hey Harmony" then transports you through a hippy Summer Soltice party with the dreamy "Everything was up for romance". It's sentiment about "the sweet cowgirl comes and asks you for a dance" is corny, but it somehow works.
The album is mostly acoustic, with touches of banjo, subtle drums and percussion but does venture into the electric to great effect - as can be heard on "Be cool be nice". Fans of The Reindeer Section and Snow Patrol will instantly click with guitar sound.
Listen out for the "hidden" track which is a very stoned studio jam about "the mushroom in the garden is getting stronger legs to stand on"! Complete with a dog barking through the track and hints of mandolin, you can't help but think what fun the band must have had making this record.
"Hey Harmony" is a real treat to the ears - the sound is nothing new but the melodies and production make the overall experience an absolute pleasure. If you haven't heard St Thomas yet, you could do no worse than start here.