Eoin French is the bright young thing of alternative Irish pop and, on his long-awaited first album, more than lives up to the hyperbole.
A qualified architect, the Corkman puts his songs together with impressive perspective and nuance. Beats flutter in the background yet never overshadow his falsetto; choruses, if often easy on the ear, are careful not to outstay their welcome.
“An alee is the side of a ship that is sheltered from the wind, and I fell in love with the word,” French commented recently.
He “fell in love” with the word — but also felt it spoke to his musical journey. He started out plying conventional indie rock in a college band inspired by Wild Beasts.
Talos was born when a planned move to America was foiled by his girlfriend falling sick. Stuck at home, his wanderlust spirit stymied, he channeled his frustration into songwriting. It was the end of his career as international architect — and the making of him as a musician.
Assembled over the past three and a half years, Wild Alee is also a testament to the importance of taking your time. Nothing here feels rushed or half thought through. Instead, a glittering intelligence informs every groove and guitar.
It’s an impressive conjuring considering that French did it all more or less on his own, aided only by producer Ross Dowling (the LP was mastered in London by Ross Davis, who has overseen reissued music by Led Zeppelin and others).
Early single ‘Tethered Bones’ channels anguished lap-top funk. But he impressively broadens his influences on the Bon Iver-esque ‘Contra’ and the swelling ‘Odyssey’, where he is reminiscent of bedsit moocher Keaton Henson. The biggest surprise is just how catchy the entire thing is, with melodies that rise like mist rising from a forest at dawn. An outstanding debut.