David Shaw's debut album opens in one of the most assured fashions I've ever heard. 'Finders Keepers' demonstrates no urgent need to make an impression: the hollow analogue synth and taught rhythm guitar build the first two minutes out to perfection, so when the beat actually drops it feels like you might be three tracks in - receptive and welcoming what follows.
Born and raised in Manchester but transported to Paris for his teenage years David Shaw has clearly been influenced by both sides of the pond. Having played with Black Strobe on guitars, bass and keyboard there is both a suave Parisian and a cool post-punk Mancunian itching to get out here.
Shaw performs an excellent revision of The The's 'Infected' - pulsing synth-work punctuating a deep bass line beneath Shaw's sensuous vocals. Similarly 'No More White Horses' is an unrelenting electro-funk strut - here especially Shaw feels like a European imagining of Tiga and it's hard not to love the big, reverb-drenched drums. And that is all just in the first three tracks.
Shaw is clearly caught up with cult scenes. I hoped the album was named after Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five. It turns out it isn't - at least not directly - but it comes from the next best thing, taking inspiration from Manchester icon and Factory Music creator Tony Wilson (after his TV show of the same name). And elsewhere 'Single Serving Friend', with it's robotic percussion and sleazy bass, clearly references Chuck Palaniuk's Fight Club (or at least David Fincher's movie adaptation).
It is almost all a bit much. The only real criticism to be levelled at Shaw's debut album is that it all begins to sound fairly similar towards the end. It lacks a natural flow or any real breaks in momentum beyond the very interlude in the form of 'North Wnd Does Slow' shortly before the end. This is an album without punctuation - taken in individually the material all stands repeated listening, it is only as a consistent whole that things can feel overwhelming. When it is good, as on the low-slung 'Like Swans', with its vocals placed lower in the mix and the analogue synths exuding cool, it all works perfectly.