Call me a miserable old git, but I’m unremittingly cynical about positive, feel-good music. Far too often, such work descends into empty sloganeering and false platitudes. Sure, when you’re 20 and feel like you can change the world, it has its place – but at 35 and somewhat jaded, you’re well placed to see through the bullshit.
And it’s difficult music to get right too; Iron Chic succeed thanks to their seemingly perpetual existential crises, grounding their positivity in relation to Big Questions, while Red City Radio, The Smith Street Band and The Hold Steady have the power to shake you to your core with freewheeling positive jams. It’s a short list, but London’s Rob Lynch belongs on there too, and ‘Baby, I’m a Runaway’ has the sort of positive, outward-looking and life-affirming album that never feels cloying or sentimental.
That he never really comes close to getting it wrong is testament to how good a songwriter Lynch is. ‘Runaway’, from which the album takes its name, could have been an awkward, sickly sweet car-crash but instead it drips with sincerity, Lynch wide-eyed with optimism. If he believes every word he’s singing, then it’s far easier to buy into his rhetoric. By the second listen you’ll be singing along too, a convert to his personality-driven indie-pop.
Elsewhere, the grunge-lite, Weezer-style geek rock of ‘Salt Spring’ comes armed with a monstrous chorus that will surely make it a fan favourite in 6 months’ time, even if it feels like an abrupt change of sound, while the jaunty ‘Sure Thing’ possesses such broad appeal it would dominate the airwaves if The Man wasn’t so risk averse.
It’s not all throng-pleasing numbers – although this is where much of ‘Baby, I’m a Runaway’ is at its most comfortable – but quieter moments such as ‘Tectonic Plates’ and ‘Youth’ showcase Lynch’s flair for conjuring up nostalgic pictures through some low-key stories and kitchen-sink dramas. Like much of ‘Baby I’m a Runaway’ it’s proof that Lynch is a wonderful storyteller with an ability to make your heart swell.
’Baby, I’m a Runaway’ by Rob Lynch is released on July 22nd on Xtra Mile Recordings.
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)