Jeremy Warmsley isn’t an easy man to pigeonhole. ‘Lose My Cool’, the opener and debut single from How We Became, opens with a piano playing over a simplistic drumline, before synthesisers come in. Jeremy’s voice itself is a bit like the song itself – jumpy, not happy to stay still for too long. He revels in slightly broken rhythms, melody-lines cut off suddenly by another one coming in. A lot of the album takes relatively simple songs, and then just cuts them up, messes them up slightly. He never makes anything too challenging to follow, but just spices up songs that could otherwise be a little musically dull.
Lyrically, this album isn’t too special, in all honesty. There are a few nice moments, especially in closer ‘Craneflies’, which beautifully catches the feeling that you are getting older too fast, and brings the album to an excellent close. ‘If He Breaks Your Heart’ is also strong; Warmsley manages to voice his love for a girl who already has a partner without sounding overly jealous or angst-ridden. Most of the time, though, they just pass you by a little, and there is a bit of a problem when a song doesn’t offer anything particularly interesting musically. The worst offender would be ‘Dancing with the Enemy’, a bland, repetitive song that really doesn’t do enough to hold your attention.
The album definitely improves around the half-way mark. ‘I Keep the City Burning’ is a wonderful subdued song, with just Jeremy’s hushed voice over a muted piano line. ‘Take Care’ is probably the album highlight, opening with Jeremy muttering lyrics of loss over a quiet guitar line before, a minute in, the whole song comes to life, exploding into a far livelier number, with sweeping vocal melodies.
However, the main niggling problem with this album is that, well, it’s all a little tame. ‘Dirty Blue Jeans’, the lead single from Warmsley’s debut album, contains a lot of similarities to the current album – disjointed rhythms, that wavering voice, sweeping melodies – but just pulls it off with so much more flare, and is a better song for it. The album just feels a little like he’s toned all the truly interesting parts of his music down a little to make it more universally appealing, and, well, it’s just not quite as interesting. Definitely worth a look if you like singer-songwriters, but I have to hope that he’s a little more ambitious next time around.