Beards are having a bit of a moment lately. Men have them and women love them (the opposite cannot be said, mind). Mr. Robbie‘s ‘Never Trust A Man Without A Beard’ has come out just in time to piggyback on the facial hair phenomenom.
Don’t expect to find any mention of beards on the EP though. The band deliver four tracks of instrumental jazz-infused prog-rock, embellished with brass and swampy guitars.
Four And A Half Hours is four and a half minutes of over-indulgent jazz at it’s finest. The brass proves to be a surprisingly good addition early on. However, pretty rapidly, the percussion becomes repetitive and lacks variation.
Rhythmically, it falters and chugs towards the end, with each instrument intermittently jumping in.The guitars, however, are enjoyable throughout, with a nineties feel to the sound.
Never Trust A Man Without A Beard marks a change in tempo, at least initially. The piano is ominous and dark, the guitars are delicate. The heavy brass presence makes it sound like a track off The Antlers’ most recent effort.
They soon put a stop to that. The drums are reintroduced to the same 4/4 beat, and it’s like hearing the same song again. It would have been great to see where the song could have gone had they continued on a slower, pared down pace. Instead, the listener is immediately disengaged.
Mr. Robbie up their game slightly on Snooks. Trumpets, drums and guitars create key changes and build-ups throughout the song. The variation is a welcome breath of fresh air. The right balance of guitar and brass is struck to create a sweet marriage of jazz and rock. The guitars are more mod-sounding and more memorable than previous tracks.
The band finish on a high with Two Boys.The trumpet playing is beautifully melancholic, with sad soft guitars that gradually build, becoming loud and brash – quite the contrast. At times, the percussion is a little jarring and it is clear that this is the missing link of an otherwise solid track.
It is clear that Mr. Robbie have established their signature sound: a great feat for a band just starting out. However, through ‘Never Trust A Man Without A Beard’, they rely on this too much, and appear reluctant too deviate from what they are comfortable with. Hopefully, with time and work, the band will see that it’s okay to step outside the box while staying true to themselves as artists.