Reviewed by Dave Griffiths
Hailing from Reading, Morning Runner are signed to Faith & Hope Records (part of Parlophone, home to giants like Blur and Supergrass). The background to this band stems from the healthy live music scene in Reading where other indie players were born like Pure Reason Revolution, The Cooper Temple Clause and old youth group buddies, The Race (now signed to Shift Disco). Morning Runner put out several very good seven inches before this full debut album and earned themselves a national following on the 'toilet tour'. 'Wilderness.' is a cohesive body of work comprising of 11 guitar/piano-based tracks. The piano and guitar work seem to battle each other for supremacy throughout the album, not least evident on the enjoyably unpredictable opener "It's Not Like Everyone's My Friend". The next two songs take the tempo up and the energy captured on "Gone Up In Flames" helps make it one of the standout tracks on the album. Matthew Greener, singer and guitarist, is a clever lyricist and throughout the LP comments on the world around him from a mostly concerned point of view. The topics that theme the songs include the folly of gambling ("Gone Up.), the price of peace, ("Have A Good Time") and even retirement ("Work"). Musically, the band all know their instruments and how they can best relate to one another without being too conservative, like Coldplay. They are more closely related to early Ben Folds Five with a guitar than Coldplay, but because of the strong piano comparisons with Coldplay are obvious. Greener boasts a very unique voice, which stands out on songs like "Burning Benches" (already a turntable hit on Cross Rhythms) and my favourite track on the album "Be All You Want Me To Be". I don't know whether Greener meant this song to be particularly spiritual, but I find the determination in his voice and the epic production quite moving. All in all, this a fine debut that I very much hope will not be the last we hear from this four-piece. This is an excellent and unique mainstream band that people should be listening to.
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