REVIEWS FOR CAROUSEL ALBUM
"Excellent indie pop on second album from thoughtful London-based group, Pocketbooks. The album as a whole is laced with fine orchestration ranging from the strings on the aforementioned 'Promises, Promises' to the lovely piano led 'The Sky at Night' and 'Harbour Lights'."
"'Carousel' is an absolute winner. These 10 tales are full of the wide-eyed abandon of being young, in love and with the world at your feet and the rest of your life to explore it. Pocketbooks have created a thoughtful, uplifting album that sets them apart from many of their contemporaries simply by the quality of their songs."
The Sound of Confusion
"At its best, Pocketbooks' Carousel is catchy indie pop of finger clicking proportions. Indie pop tones, interweaving melodies, poetic lyrics and the heart of a romantic storyteller."
"As you listen to stories and tales expertly woven alongside the lovely tuneful accompaniments it becomes an enjoyable 40 minute ride. "Promises Promises" is one of the best things you are likely to hear this year and if it doesn't get your feet tapping as a bare minimum then I suggest a visit to your GP is due. It's an indiepop dancefloor smash, kids! On "Sound of The Carnival" [Emma’s] melodic voice soars high amongst the stars and you find yourself flying amongst the clouds with gay abandon."
"Telling tales of heady months picking apples, visits to the cinema and lost love, Carousel forms a soundtrack to the perfect teenage summer. If what you're after is wholesome fun pop amid an avalanche of clever songs (some happy, some sad) then you could do a lot worse than these 11-tracks of shimmering fun."
"A gem of a pop album. With Andy Hudson's twinkling keyboard and Emma Hall's amazing, crystal clear voice to the fore. And this time everything's backed up by some perky strings. It's pleasing to see a band can move on without losing any of their pop sensibilities."
A Layer Of Chips
"A DELIGHT from start to finish. As usual with this lot it's a bouncy pop word-filled thrill ride, but with a marked UPPING on the Production side of things. The lyrics have blossomed into a kind of POINTED DELICACY that mark them out as a style unique."
"Ein großes Pop-Album. Wenn es Dich aber erst einmal erreicht hat, nistet es sich ein, macht es sich gemütlich wie die Katze auf der Decke hinterm Ofen."
[A great pop album. The first time you hear it, it makes you feel as comfortable as a cat at home in front of the fireplace.]
Gutes Hören Ist Wichtig
"Even when the subject matter remains tied to its harkening solitariness, the music itself is surprisingly perky and maintains a real energy throughout."
"Further listens allowed the real beauty, depth and craftsmanship of both the song-writing and the execution to reveal themselves. I was drawn in so tight that it started to hurt. Suffice to say that ‘Carousel’ is an exceptional album and is now playing more frequently than its predecessor ever managed, which I didn’t think would ever be possible."
"Des mélodies simples et fines. Deux voix, l'une féminine, l'autre masculine, douces et légères. Un piano évoquant les vieilles comédies musicales américaines d'autrefois. Des violons discrets et soyeux. Si vous cherchiez un album de pop léger et sans prétention, qui fait pensivement bouger la tête et les pieds en vous nettoyant le cerveau, inutile de chercher plus loin, vous aurez du mal à trouver mieux..."
[Simple and delicate melodies. Soft and light male and female voices. A piano evoking the old American musicals of the past. Discrete and silky violins. If you‘re looking for a light and unpretentious pop album, that thoughtfully gets your head and your feet moving and cleanses your head, look no further, you will not find better ...]
Dans Le Mur... Du Son
"Every track oozes with delirious charm, conjuring images of cinematic summer days, all free-wheeling tandems, hands holding hands on park benches and the dizzy falling into new love. Even when lamenting life’s losses, there is joy to be found in the details – the inherent poetry found in coupling the vast expanse and the minutiae of everyday experience."
Old Fridges Can Kill
"What, essentially, you’ve got in Carousel is a gem of a pop album. If you want to force me to pick a favourite, then it’d have to be Promises, Promises; a flurry of bright harmonies and fast pacing set by the sweeping violins, singer Emma Hall’s lovely shining vocals and bittersweet lyrics about casual promises that never materialise."
"Beautifully crafted tunes which ooze melodies. Rarely does an album evoke such lovely times, it could easily soundtrack those relaxing lazy summer days or in fact the ethos of the Indietracks music festival. Wonderful way to while away forty minutes of your life, lovely!"
"I love love love this LP, 'Carousel' is a beautiful POP! record, accomplished songwriting deftly played, with hooks and melodies (probably, I don't really know, I'm no expert, but certainly things that make you pay attention and listen up and whistle to yourself later) a sweetheart deal for any dedicated popkid... a record for keeps, a corker!"
A Fog Of Ideas
"Some of these songs are nothing short of pure pop brilliance. 'Promises Promises' bounces along like a rabbit on a pogo stick. My other personal favourite 'The Beaujolais Lanes' reminds me of a Burt Bacharach style song, which is the highest compliment I can offer. Really all hail Pocketbooks for this is a rather splendid album.
REVIEWS FOR FLIGHT PATHS ALBUM AND FOOTSTEPS SINGLE
Everett True - review of Flight Paths - June 2009
This is Bacharach, and this is Bob Stanley. This is all those 60s pop groups who never aspired to be as cocky or salacious as The Shangri-La’s. This is 6pm practice for choral song after school. This is The Pale Fountains. This is Dickon Edwards. This is Sarah Records without any delusions of inadequacy. None of these might seem to be recommendations to you – same as my hastily-discovered solution to meat leftovers might seem even vaguely palatable – but shit. I know what I like, and I like this.
The female singer’s voice reminds me of Wendy from The Popguns. How can I not like this? We all need our secret local crushes.
Bearded - review of Flight Paths - July 2009
In less than forty minutes there is plenty here to thrill and invigorate fans of earnest indie-pop. At times Flight Paths is wonderfully enchanting, and with songs like this it’s hard to resist Pocketbooks’ charms.
For Folk's Sake - review of Flight Paths - July 2009
Opening track ‘Footsteps’ instantly lifts your soul and sends you dancing around the room, while ‘Cross the Line’ has a sincerity that is refreshing and delightful, singing about missing Oyster cards and concerns about a friends hay-fever. ‘Skating on Thin Ice’ has the jaunt of a Randy Newman track and has a bounce that could melt even the coldest hearts.
Paint the Words in Pastel Blue - review of Footsteps - June 2009
Do I believe that there is anyone out there whose footsteps I could imagine in perfect sync with mine, forever? Absolutely not. Do I believe that it's possible when the Pocketbooks sing about it? Absolutely.
The Devil Has The Best Tuna - review of Footsteps & Flight Paths - June 2009
As attractive as a day off school in the summer when you were twelve and as sweet as a Mr Whippy, Pocketbooks songs shimmer like a heat haze and sparkle like stars on a hot summer night.
Sweeping The Nation - review of Footsteps - June 2009
Pocketbooks do that whole jangle pop thing, and they do it a whole lot better than the vast majority too. Straight out of the Go-Betweens/Postcard Records school of dragging the sweet/sour 60s into the modern recording studio, glorious melodies and boy/girl harmonies replete.
Fire Escape Talking - review of Footsteps - June 2009
Pocketbooks put the dip in their hip and the glide in their stride for Footsteps, their first single and finest moment to date. Capturing the strut and sass of 60s girl group sounds with a melodica solo for that authentic Amelia Fletcher experience...
Cokemachineglow - review of Flight Paths - June 2009
Flight Paths is a spritely little blighter, whose punchy snapshot of throwaway summers assures you won’t get killed by the runways. Just delayed, maybe.
SoundXP - review of Footsteps - May 2009
My word, how Pocketbooks have moved on from their somewhat insipid early days, now showboating, on this number at least, jaunty Northern Soul rhythms, brass and a tune good enough to shuffle along to.
Heaven Is Above Your Head - review of Flight Paths - March 2009
It's the sound of a tight, fresh and confident group - as anyone who's seen them in the past 10 months can testify. It's the sound of Pocketbooks.
A Layer Of Chips - review of Flight Paths - March 2009Pocketbooks, as I'm sure you're aware, are probably the best live band in England right now. And if Flight Paths is anything to go by, they're probably the best band on record, too.
Scatterbrain - review of Flight Paths - March 2009
Pocketbooks' songwriting has always been above the top notch and Flight Paths is likely to only further their reputation as some of the finest songwriters in indiepop today.
Sounds XP - gig review - January 2009
"Their simple sweet pop is the perfect start to the evening."
Kitten Painting - gig review - January 2009
London indiepop’s favourite sons (and daughter) Pocketbooks kick things off with what turns out to be the most enjoyable (for me) set of the night, lighting up the chilly January air with their heart-gladdening pop. Every time I see Pocketbooks, I’m always surprised at how fab they are – you’d think I’d have got used to it by now, but their slip-sliding melodies still catch me unawares whisking me along in their joyful, jangling rush.
Erasing Clouds - review of the 'Waking Up' EP - November 2008
A style that suits pretty pop melodies and charming lyrics about life and love, both of which Pocketbooks have plenty of across even just these four songs. Ultimately the Waking Up EP breezes by, but not without leaving a great impression.
Efestivals - gig review - July 2008
Memorable for all the right reasons, their blend of summer feel good melodic riffs and sweeping choruses were certainly infectious...
Eardrums Music - review of the 'Waking Up' EP - February 2008
Their early free releases were good, their first proper single was fantastic, and the song I’ve hear so far for this one sounds absolutely brilliant. Very nice melodies and some perfect vocal work from both their singers.
Indie mp3 - gig review - January 2008
Ian's guitar playing adds a new dimension to the band’s sound which now sounds absolute. The boy/girl vocals work oh so well and both Emma and Andy's vocals are stronger than ever especially on the recent single Cross The Line. Highlight for me was I'm Not Going Out which I hope turns up on the forthcoming new single. A year ago I wrote that the band could be London's premier indie pop band if they sorted themselves out. For now I think they are just that.
In Love With These Times, In Spite of These Times - on 'Cross The Line' - January 2008
"Great little single, with clever lyrical flourishes, lovely vocal interplay and a fizzingly unforgettable hook played out between organ and piano... this is a blazin' song. Someone should probably do a ringtone for it.
Grimsby Evening Telegraph - article on Atomic Beat Records' Grimsby connection! - September 2007
A London-based record label is aiming to launch two local musicians into the spotlight...
Too Much Apple Pie - on 'Cross the Line' - August 2007
There's something about indiepop with male/female vocals. I can't quite say why it hits the spot so delightfully but Pocketbooks are a great example of gender-blender tweeness...Pocketbooks' lyrics are eloquent and generally about the everyday rather than the extraordinary, but each song is something special...Give it a listen and then try telling me that lo-fi indiepop isn't brilliant!
Simon Armitage - on 'Cross The Line' - August 2007
"Love 'Cross The Line'. It's pure snowshaker pop, and more dressing-table than kitchen sink."
Fat and Confused - on 'Cross the Line' - July 2007
Wow! This is the kind of indiepop gem I used to thrive on, fresh and happy and recorded for a fiver in someone’s garage, done for the fun of it and all the better for it. Its like Kicker had they had better singers, the Aislers Set if they weren’t tinged with melancholy and so obsessed with distorted guitars and broken hearts. Young people taking advantage of the simple things “I’d swap some sleep for a fixed emotion/ a g&t and some sun tan lotion/ a bag of chips in a seaside coast town/ an empty seat on the underground/ a basement club where there’s space for dancing/ a conversation that’s life enhancing/ a suddentwist that I’m not expecting/ a novelette with a cryptic ending” etc…flip it over and it gets better still, Every Good Time We Ever Had is one that escaped from Belle & Sebastian, the kind of song that should have graced The Boy… instead of Ease Your Feet Into The Sea or Sleep The Clock Round, the kind of song Aberfeldy always wanted to write, I love the Pocketbooks and so should you.
In Love with These Times, In Spite of These Times - on 'Cross the Line' - May 2007
Say it softly, but 2007 could yet become the first year for quite a while when indie-pop corners the market for the best tunes: this great little single, with clever lyrical flourishes, lovely vocal interplay and a fizzingly unforgettable hook played out between organ and piano, was the highlight of the pocketbooks' set in norf london the other night, even outranking the 12 bar blues-type number earlier on that sounded a bit like chas and dave. yes the ambition perhaps outstrips the recording quality, but in our book music should always be that way round.
Tasty Fanzine - on 'Cross The Line' - May 2007
It is my opinion that Pocketbooks are just about the best group in England at this time, and ‘Cross the Line’ does nothing to dispel this. Everything about Pocketbooks is perfect, from the obvious world-weariness to the pretty, pretty music, to Emma Hall’s voice. If anyone had seen Hall sing 18 months ago, they’d be hard pressed to believe it’s the same person. On ‘Cross the Line’ her voice makes the song; it’s wonderful.
I hope Pocketbooks get the recognition they deserve, but it a perverse way I want them to be our secret forever, because they’re very much our band. And those don’t come along too often.
Sounds XP - gig review - May 2007
The band win over another set of hungover hearts with their sheer charm, bonhomie and bloody lovely songs. 'The First World Record' and 'Falling Leaves' inspire impromptu outbreaks of ballroom dancing down the front, and the smiles continue right through to the closing combination of tracks from their just released debut single, 'Cross The Line'.
Pylon Sounds - on single 'Cross The Line' - May 2007
Sometimes life’s mundanities get in the way of being a grown-up. Sometimes it’s hard to decide whether to even be a grown-up, with all it entails - suits, houses and 4 x 4s. Pocketbooks playfully approach the subject, tousle its hair and take it on a tube journey in their charming debut single 'Cross the Line', a self-questioning internal dialogue tinkered out across delicious boy/girl harmonies and an irresistible tambourine beat. They have a lovely knack of transforming the workaday into the heroic - B side 'Every Good Time We Ever Had' defies an ex’s accusations of forgetfulness with a list of closely scrutinised memories buoyed up on a dramatic, ascending piano line. Pocketbooks are the best kept secret of the thriving London indiepop scene right now – see them while you can.
Not Quite Rocket Science - gig review - April 2007
Pocketbooks were stripped back to a three piece, and yet sounded more full and tighter than i've seen them before - everyone relaxed on stage and really enjoying themselves. They're new single on Atomic Beat Records was on sale at the gig and also sounds great - nice to hear the songs 'Cross the Line' and 'Every good time we ever had' recorded properly.
Indie MP3 - gig review - April 2007
It's amazing what a smaller venue and a stripped back line up can do to a band's sound. Andy's vocals were strong... Emma was brimming fall of confidence.... until tonight I haven't actually taken in what a great voice she has.
Liquor Is Quicker Fanzine - gig review - March 2007
Pocketbooks took first turn in charming the room into abeyance with their delicately tuneful cheery pop melodies characterised by girl-boy harmonised choruses and thoughtful lyrics, despite gremlins in the technical works at various points. This is the sort of music you can’t help but sway to and smile as they sing about the humdrumities of modern life and the technicalities and etiquette of romance and other stories.
Robots and Electronic Brains Fanzine - gig review - January 2007
They give us a slightly chaotic set as various gremlins make their presence felt, a chaotic but quite wonderful set for all that. Slightly unusual in employing two keyboardists/vocalists along with the standard guitar/bass/drums triumvirate, they've got themselves some good tunes and give us hugely enjoyable indie-pop in generous dollops. They're fun.
Tasty Fanzine - gig review - November 2006
Pocketbooks are jangly indie, undeniably fey and all glockenspiels, hand claps and boy/girl harmonies - general brilliant ye olde indiepop you don't hear enough of nowadays.
Another Form Of Relief - October 2006
I first wrote about Pocketbooks more than four months ago and I still haven’t been able to find a picture of them in the time since. I’m starting to think they may not actually exist, or that they are cartoons like Gorillaz or something. Anyway, who cares what they look like when they throwing out top notch low-fi twee indie pop? ‘Cross the Line’ is the first song released from their new batch of recordings, and it’s easily cemented itself in place as one of my favourites of the year so far. Full of lovely imagery (it opens with “I’m asleep on a train on the Zone 2 boundary”) and basically continues as a back and forth conversation between the male and female vocalists. This takes on a nicely self-aware twist when she starts calling him on the honesty of his lyrics (”As a kid I would run through the fields and orchards” / “What about your hayfever though?” / “I’d climb the branches to the top” / “What, with your vertigo?” / “Look, I’m making all this up”). Extra points also have to be awarded for being the first song I’m aware of that actually slots in the term “Oyster card” without being entirely tacky.
Channel 4 - Planet Sound - September 2006
(Teletext music page on Channel4 Television, UK)
"...giddy timeless bedroom dramas... a hunger and cloistered dreams are all theirs. Glorious majesty, given time. 7/10"
Nothing But Green Lights - September 2006
"... whispered and then harmonised indie pop... The Go Team with the colour taken out, and Belle and Sebastian members awkwardly inserted. The result = vivid + distinctive *indie pop"
Lostmusic - September 2006
"Imagine Belle and Sebastian recording in a lovingly lo-fi manner. Imagine soul songs given an indiepop makeover. Just imagine. Well, that's what this five piece london band must have done when they formed. For the bands recordings are exactly that, lovingly lo fi and lovely. With a nod to Belle and Sebastian and a pocket full of 60s soul the Pocket Books make beautiful indiepop. It's a sweet sound, without everbeing sickening. This is what Talulah Gosh might have sounded like had their blueprint been 60s soul instead of 70s punk."
Channel 4 - Planet Sound - March 2006
(Teletext music page on Channel4 Television, UK)
"Running circles 8/10
"It'll sound pretty quiet on your soundtracks to driving really fast" say the London sugarpop band.
"Oh, who cares when the've got a song that's as if Belle & Seb carelessly left off Feeling Sinister?"
"It's similarly uplifting and witty, with an instantly classic chorus. Then the second song sounds like Sigur Ros coverng the Take Hart theme. Stunning."
Indie MP3 - Match 2006
"...10 excellent tracks .... If you like your indiepop as a lo-fi variety then you are not going to be disappointed by this.
"Certainly one of the brighest things shining through in the musically dull phoney war that is 2006 so far."
Feedback - July 2006
(The magazine of MENSA's special interest group for lovers of rock and prog music!! - I genuinely have no idea how they came to be reviewing us...)
"Insightful lo-fi tunes chronicling everyday life's ups and downs... ...an intriguing collection of songs...."
Disposable Media - November 2006
"... fun lyrics, and it works well. Lovely stuff"
Another Form of Relief - July 2006
"... precious sounding songs about the simple things, sung in an incredibly earnest way. There's also a great little knack for pop culture references here too..."
Dan, Emma & Ian (Indietracks, July 2011
Emma (Scared To Dance Fanzine, Autumn 2010)
Daniel and Andy (Dailypop, August 2010) Emma (Copenhagen Popfest, April 2010)
Andy (The Dumbing of America, Jul 2009)
Ian and Andy (Stereopathic, September 2009)
Andy & Ian (ZMEMusic, Jul 2009)
Emma & Dan (Indietracks, Jul 2009)
Dan & Ian (A Layer Of Chips, Feb 2009)
Jonny (Anika In London, Jan 2009)
Andy & Emma (All That Ever Mattered, Oct 2008)
Daniel & Ian (Indietracks, Jul 2008)
Emma & Jonny (Djungel Trumman, Jul 2008)
Andy (Smalltown America, March 2007)