Vin Whyte deals in “melodramatic pop”. On his debut, Keywords, Whyte seems to masterfully flit from whichever genre sparks his interest, crafting songs that portray both extravagance and understatement in equal measures.

The soft-psych harmonies and melodic pop-stylings of The Kinks, The Beatles and to some extent, The Beach Boys crop up throughout, but they’re then fed through an alt-rock filter and end up owing more to The Pixies, Smashing Pumpkins and Modest Mouse’s mellower moments. ‘Hey My Friend’ begins in just such a fashion, before staggering towards a crunchier alternative close.

The euro-pop indie air of opener ‘You Call Me Heaven’ is an early indication of how easy it is for Whyte to pop a couple of earworms on any of the record’s memorable hooks and snag the listener’s attention immediately. As the album progresses we’re treated to the day-to-day drama of ‘West Midlands Soul Survivor’ and the schizo-indietronica of ‘Hafren’, which nods towards the wayward experimentation of Department Of Eagles and Bonobo.

The stilted sweetness of reflective standout ‘Gone By Morning’ not only differs in feel with a distant harmonica answering the gentle ring of a xylophone, but in-between the harder hitting aspects of the album it gives us a closer look at the introspective subtleties of Whyte’s writing, as he sings “I could see you from my window stepping into new horizons… I was thinking of the old days, when you knew me, when I knew me”.

The album ends with the playful harp-romp of ‘Sitting, Waiting’ and ‘Strange Auld Love’, which hears Whyte cooking up something so good it could be an outtake off Mac Demarco’s recent BBQ-inspired instrumental soundtrack ‘Some Other Ones’.

On ‘What This Is’ Whyte sings, in a prophetic manner that’s not dissimilar to Kurt Vile on ‘Was All Talk’:

“My best friends they don’t know what this. They live their lives where I’m not going. / One day they’ll see that that’s not them, but this is me and for now my friends don’t know what this is”

From listening to Keywords one can’t help but think that it’ll soon be very clear to both friends and fans alike, exactly ‘What This Is’.

Keywords is now out via Wave Language Recordings / Bandcamp.

David Weir