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THE FLOE No Looking Back (2009)

I find it strange that the PR blurb for The Floe's debut album makes no mention of the band's previous incarnation - AloneMe. Because their 2008 album Sketch was classic female fronted singer songwriter soft pop/rock.

Originally starting out as Springett Booth (singer Sarah Springett and singer / guitarist Dave Booth), the pair were joined by Simon Edgoose on drums/programming and singer/multi-instrumentalist (piano/ cello/flute/bass) Liz Townsend to form the short lived AloneMe.

Quite why they felt the need to change identity is unclear, but the album title No Looking Back suggests that this is a new beginning (although the inner sleeve content does make subtle references to the band's origins).

While Sketch was sadly underrated, the band have chosen to steer a more commercial route with No Looking Back. The set opener (and current single) I Hope You Know has a distinct Eurythmics/eighties string intro but the key features are Sarah's crystal clear vocals and a big hook.

Not What Knocks You Down demonstrates the band's ability to combine killer melodies and choruses, Sarah's vocals again being the focal point of an excellent song that is at the upper end of the pop/rock crossover line.

But elsewhere the self penned material is a little 'thin' and poppy. And that in underpinned by the undisputed gem of the set being a quite inspired cover of the Holland/Dozier/Holland classic (Love Is Like A) Heatwave - slowed down to a stunning sultry ballad.

And therein lies the rub, the song writing is below par compared to what's come before. At least, from a [soft] rock content perspective. Whether the songwriting team has simply run out of steam, or it's a deliberate attempt at wider appeal, I'm uncertain.

The stripped back closing track - Summer - a lovely piano acoustic duet does demonstrate that the spark is still there. Having been really impressed by Sketch I was looking forward to this release. But sad to say, No Looking Back Is a case of regression rather than progression.


Review by Pete Whalley

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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