Basic PlumbingBasic Plumbing
Keeping Up Appearances
Released: 24th January 2020
All proceeds to LGBT Centre in LA and CALM.
Keeping Up Appearances is the final album recorded by Patrick Doyle, our much-missed friend and musician who previously made his mark in groups Veronica Falls, Sexy Kids and The Royal We. Recorded in L.A. with Helen Skinner and producer Andrew Schubert, Keeping Up Appearances is a golden listen full of a dual sadness and effervescence that characterises much of Doyle's writing.
Completed in L.A. and finally being released with all profits going to two charities chosen by Doyle's family - L.A.'s LGBT Centre and CALM - the album is assured, fun and captures the pulsing fun of the live shows played by Patrick in either his Boys Forever or Basic Plumbing guises. It takes some pleasing detours from any semblance of a straight-jangle template. On Lilac the band sound like The Seeds or a Nuggets-era stomper and on Bad Mood there's an early-Teenage Fanclub sunshine in the vocal melodies as they battle minor-key chord changes. One of Doyle's skills is paring down to the essentials in a song, as on Constant Attention, where a simple guitar line interplays with Skinner's bassline for a perfect duo hook. It's a great song, barbed and constantly shifting between light and dark. Closer Strangers is a pared down song sounding not unlike one of Doyle's primary influences Galaxie 500, with the bones of Basic Plumbing - Doyle on guitar and singing with supportive bass by Skinner - and it's a beautiful full stop on the album.
"We're coming up to the 2nd anniversary of Patrick Doyle's passing and as a friend of his I find it difficult to write that. Like my colleagues in Monorail, I always loved being around Patrick and marvelled at how effortlessly he seemed to pirouette from one pop-smashing group to another, in the process recording more fan favourite records in his short career than many dream of. Patrick was a face around town in Glasgow until he outgrew it and set London and then Los Angeles a-glow. While he was a definitely a friend of mine I don't pretend to know him more than his bandmates in his band Veronica Falls, his close friends or of course his family. What I do know is that in March 2018 we lost a bright light who never failed to make you feel comfortable, never failed to sparkle in a room. We also lost a big, big songwriting talent perhaps only hinted at with his previous projects.
Before he passed, Patrick was working with London musician Helen Skinner and L.A. producer Andrew Schubert on his next project, Basic Plumbing. Following his solo debut Boys Forever, Basic Plumbing is full of the harmonies and bittersweet lyrics that characterised Doyle's songwriting. Here though we can feel the sun-kissed influence of The Byrds and the mid 60s L.A. sunshine pop sounds in Doyle's vocal. As You Disappear, the album's opener, flits constantly between aurally pleasing chord progressions and melodic twists. Lilac is a sparse, 60's Garage stomper worthy of The Seeds or any number of Nuggets smashers.
The breadth of Doyle's influences are wrapped in a gauze of attitude throughout Keeping Up Appearances. On the title track, a pounding backbeat is powered by Doyle's reverb-ed harmonies and the insouciance of his voice. He can sing about being in a Bad Mood and you just know you'd let him get away with it. On Too Slow, a lurching track which showcases a different tone in Patrick's voice, there's even a hint of late-period Nirvana. Stand out song Constant Attention has a jaunty guitar hook that dances on the tables of the backing track before Doyle's vocal eases in. On the more pared back songs, like Sunday or album closer Strangers Doyle's love of sxis in full bloom on a beautiful track full of lush ennui and sweet melancholy.
It's impossible to know what Patrick would have done next after this Basic Plumbing album. No doubt he would have played his adopted hometown of Glasgow while on tour and we would have a grand night on the tiles. He would inevitably gone on to record more under whatever moniker and we would have waited with baited breath for each release. As it stands, Doyle left an impressive body of work with his various previous groups and his two solo records. We're thankful for this and for having spent time with such a wonderful human being.
All proceeds from the sale of Basic Plumbing - Keeping Up Appearances will be donated to the LGBT Centre in Los Angeles and CALM."
- Michael / Monorail