3 South & Banana – 3 South & Banana (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

The name alone gives you a glimpse into the nature of this debut album from Berlin-based French multi-instrumentalist Aurelien Bernard. Such a off-beat name can only be followed up by equally off-beat music. And indeed, upon hearing it,  I am immediately put in mind of another Berlin resident Anton Barbeau and therefore by association a whole string of left-fielders, rule-breakers and non-conformists from Julian Cope to Syd Barrett and from Robyn Hitchcock to XTC.

His main form of sonic attack is the hazy, psychedelic pop song, one that embraces the deft and delicate style of The Kinks as well as the quirk and quaintness of Andy Partridge’s gentler moments. Bla Bla Bla marries 60’s sci-fi weirdness with a 70’s hippyish pastel-pop, KittyKatKatHappyBadSad is a strange bubbling, soothing, oozing slice of hazy soulfulness and Roof Top Trees echoes with the madness of early Floyd before earnestness and intensity became the name of their particular game.

The album mixes classic singer-songwriting styles with perky pop but also drifting sound washes with 60’s chamber pop drama. And for all the name dropping and references I have used to try and tie the album down, the truth is that it really can’t be summed up in such comparative fashion. There is more that seperates it from even its nearest rivals as there is which unifies it and, of course, that is the very definition of uniqueness and eccentricity, which this album and the man who made it certain is.

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