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Alfie



Manchester quintet Alfie cavorts in the same pastoral yet somehow modern folk-pop playground as Badly Drawn Boy, the very same Boy who immediately signed the group to his Twisted Nerve label and sent them off on tour after hearing them the first time. So it figures that they might be working the same beat -- hell, the members of Alfie even share the beards-and-beanies fashion aesthetic so stylishly sported by the Poorly Sketched One. You wouldn't confuse one for the other musically, however; while BDB is unquestionably a Singer-Songwriter, Alfie tends toward shuffling, laid-back, acoustic-based psych-pop eclecticism of a sort that has gotten them compared to The Beta Band, Coldplay, and Gomez now and then. They have a genuinely pleasant, gracefully meandering style that feels simple, but upon close listening reveals itself to be full of well-chosen sounds -- violin or piano nicely complementing the comfortable guitar and scratchy vocals on a number of tracks, some occasional shimmering Flaming Lips-style psych-pop strings, the occasional xylophone or tambourine or tasteful electronics adding welcome flavor to the proceedings from time to time. Alfie doesn't aim to sweep you immediately off your feet, but after a few tracks, you'll sort of tumble into the music as you would a hammock on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

In 2001, Alfie issued a fine collection of songs on Twisted Nerve/XL under the syntactically challenged title If You Happy With You Need Do Nothing (the band reportedly took the name from a dentist's note scrawled to singer Lee Gorton). Considering it was simply a repackaging of the band's first three EPs, If You Happy is a surprisingly cohesive, smooth-flowing album.