- Audio CD (August 13, 2001)
- Imported ed. edition
- Original Release Date: 2001
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Enhanced, Import
- Label: Astralwerks
- ASIN: B0000594XF
- Average Customer Review: 39 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,965 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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Every now and again a record practically throws itself up from the stack, and on first listening strikes a chord that separates it from the pack. 'Optimist' is one of those records, a warm feel good experience.
Although this British duo draws effectively on early-'70s rock--mainly warm SoCal folk pop, à la America, and shimmery-cool British space glam, à la T. Rex--what makes them distinctive are their modern easy grooves and their uneasy emotional nakedness. "I panic at the quiet times, decisions at the door," sighs vocalist-guitarist Ollie Knights in "The Door," but throughout The Optimist, he and coconspirator and slide guitarist Gale Paridjanian resist the alt-rock urge to bury anxiety in walls of noise. Their debut full-length (comprising five tracks from earlier EPs and seven new originals) is rife with subtle, contemplative moments that often turn lyrically dark ("I'm sick and I'm twisted/ Like a Sunday massacre") or get carried away by cresting rhythms, like the post-breakup lament "State of Things" ("You and me used to be on fire/ There ain't no straight lines in this state of things"). Although Turin Brakes can rock when they care to (here most effectively on "Mind over Money"), their strength comes from exploring the tension in life's deceptively calm shadows. --Lisa Gidley
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"The Optimist LP" is an encouraging debut, with ups and downs. The sound is primarily an intimate one, with just accoustic guitars for the most part, and Olly's quivering vocals, occasionally embellished with drums and bass. The songs evolve around themes of not knowing where to belong ("Feeling Oblivion", the lead off track on the CD... with a great mandolin supplementing the accoustic gtrs; also "Starship" with lyrics like "Given the chance I would leave this place on a rocketship to Mars"), job stress ("Underdog (Save Me) which is also the 2nd single, making dents in the UK charts), and lost love ("State of Things", the 3rd single of the album).
On a couple of occasions, the songs reminded me of things heard before. Best example is "The Door", the 1st single of the album, with its blatant use of the riff found in the 1965 song of Dave Berry's "Strange Effect" (anyone remember that one?), but also in "Future Boy" (reminding me of George Michael's "Praying for Time") and "Emergency 72 (reminding me of America's "Horse with No Name").
The CD is best summed up in its last song, the title track: "The Optimist" track is very much like many tracks: musically it has accoustic gtrs starting, then joined eventually by some drums and bass, and lyrically it talks about "I'm Planning The Greatest of Escapes... Soon I'm Gonna Stand Up... yeah, I'm Gonna Rear Up and There's No Escape"
Electric gtrs show up for the first time in "Slack" (track 8), one of the better tunes, as well as in the "hidden" bonus track, which pops up some 2 min. after "The Optimist" ends, an instrumental which is really intruiging.
Overall, this is an interesting debut. No Coldplay-like quality in my opinion, but I'm sure looking forward to future releases of Turin Brakes.
The lads sound like 2 squeaky schoolboys busking at the chipper but their songs are well crafted and performed and have an emotional purity to them that really packages the album beautifully. That is why after 6 years, I still play this one regularly, whilst Coldplay is gathering dust "on the shelf" (no pun intended). Whilst the comparisons with the aforementioned Coldplay and Travis (and latterly Keane I daresay) are valid enough, this album more than anything reminds me of Woodface by Crowded House, although that album is lusher in production, the harmonious pure pop of it shines though, and The Optimist is a fine recording that deserves a place in anyone's collection.