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Reviewed by Violet French

Admiral Drowsy: The Gutter Boy Spectates

Reviewed by Violet French

Admiral Drowsy: The Gutter Boy Spectates

Admiral Drowsy, real name Luke Redfern Scott, has created what many strive for; the modern folk album, with his debut LP offering ‘The Gutter Boy Spectates’. But more than that, Scott has explored texture and layering to create vast soundscapes, which are duplicitous in their use of space, and lack of space.

From the first 1min 30 call to attention of Vision From The Deep, this collection dives deeper than folk. Deeper than singer-songwriter, and deeper than alternative.

This humble two-man job (three with Kurt Woods’ mastering included) has Scott and fellow Ōtautahi-based producer/musician Ryan Chin at the helm of a very sturdy ship. Scott is in charge of synths, guitar, piano and the ethereal vocals on the album; while Chin lends his talents to percussion, drums, lap steel and the odd banjo moment – whilst donning his producer’s hat. 

‘The Gutter Boy Spectates’ is a beautiful and haunting collection of songs that Scott himself describes as “woozy ghost ballads and small-town psychosis songs”. It’s often hard to tell what or where the small town might be – Scott is these days Lyttelton-based, but hails from the north of England. There are moments reminiscent of the adventurous era that bore the likes of Trees and Nick Drake;  and tender Beck-like moments (think Morning Phase). His songs evoke an otherworldly feel, the small town could be in the here and now, or maybe found in a lucid dream, folk tale, or in manuscripts of ages gone by. 

The narrative of the songs is rather like opening up a dusty book of fairy tales. Each song has a slightly different perspective, Scott’s “psychosis songs” often feel like a fever-dream – no more so than on the swirling, dissonant, Hum Drum Noise From The Peddlers. The melodic meter, and steady floor tom heighten the senses until Scott and Chin’s guitar (and reverse guitar) allows the beat to ease, and tension to relieve, albeit only momentarily. 

Other characters in these fairy tales serve as moral fables. In Spectators our narrator reminds us to ‘pray for the sick, pray for the weak, pray for the one you gave to the street’. A reminder of humility, kindness, and accountability as human beings. Mapped Out reads like a beacon of hope, our protagonist telling us that he’ll ‘sing out to the sea, I think she hears me’, chants, ‘repeat, remake, re-mould’, a practice makes perfect sense of being. The album concludes with the off-kilter Seagull Sun, a peaceful goodbye, or sun drenched waking up, from the strange and wonderful dream that is this 10-song collection. 

‘The Gutter Boy Spectates’, is a stunning debut album, and Scott has set the bar high. It is not a summer jam, it is not a heartbreaker. It’s not a smash hit, it is a work of art. While Scott may be Admiral Drowsy, he must surely also be the Gutter Boy spectating, ready to face the seagull sun.