[10 July 2008]
The debut album from Los Angeles’ Willoughby is remarkable, it sounds completely and utterly English. Gus Steyffert, the musician behind the project, has worked extensively in the past with the Bird and the Bee’s Inara George, and Willoughby share that band’s familiarity with jazz harmonies and soft melody. Throughout I Know What You’re Up To, Steyffert delivers his lines almost whisper-thin (most of the time, this is compelling; occasionally, it allows your mind to wander). “Frankenstein”, the first single, is tip-toe intrigue, all rhythm guitar and, er, dastardly deeds. You wouldn’t find Willoughby in a Bond film, despite the dinner-suits-and-martinis atmosphere, as they’re much too gentle. But gentle can still churn out sparkling melody, which continues to surprise you. “In the valley of indecision…I’m losing you”, Steyffert sings on “I’m Losing You”, and you wonder why the tune’s not in every coffee shop. Though by album’s end, the soft-swung cocktail bar swoon runs close to overplaying itself, as a calm Sunday morning album I Know What You’re Up To is pretty successful. Slap it on and float away.