25-year-old Brixton-based singer-songwriter Josh Record (with a name like that, how could he not end up in music?) has been hotly tipped by many at Radio 1, with Zane Lowe, Annie Mac and Steve Lamacq all giving support for his new EP, Bones. Record fits snugly alongside Fleet Foxes and Ben Howard, appearing folkier than the latter but more pop-oriented than the former; he weaves sprawling acoustic indie soundscapes, peppered with majestic harmonies and climactic passages of near post-rock grandiosity. Considering the immense success of Ben Howard, in part due to the fawning of Radio 1, Record should find it a breeze occupying the same space and attracting a similar fanbase – he's in a good place at a good time to begin his foray into the mainstream.
Bonesis an oft-elegiac release, dependent on the morose and the minor key. However, it's not an inherently depressing collection of songs. Record's paeans frequently evoke a rush of excitement and clarity – it's restorative, cleansing even. It's the musical equivalent of a brisk walk or a cool shower to clear your mind. Record whips up images of proper English countryside: meadows, cows and grassy paths laden with fluttery butterflies. Basically, along with being healing and relaxing, it's also pretty darn summery. There's a crispness and lightness to his voice, and even when there's hefty chunks of harmony, it never feels bogged down with overwrought production or clutter.
'Bones' is a mammoth single of a song, capable of battling Ed Sheeran and Mumford & Sons for chart spots. The amount of reverb makes it sound like it was recorded in a cavernous cathedral – in fact, that semi-sacred/hymnal tone surges throughout the track. 'Alaska' opens with emotional, melodic picked acoustic guitar, before Record's voice invades the strings with whispering breaths. It's a minute effort, but solid nonetheless. 'For Your Love' is key-led, with 90s sitcom-funk bass underneath and glimmering pop-rock guitar chords intermittently crashing. It's a more adventurous turn for Record, and the change of pace/timbre is welcome – clearly he's not a one trick pony – but it kind of leaves the rest of the EP somewhat flatter afterwards in comparison.
Josh Record's Bones EP has many features and can evoke many feelings - it's sodden with emotional frailty and folk-pop charm, too - and with his famous friends, he's likely to see a lot more of the limelight soon. The only real kink to iron out is his lack of variety in his sound; he does the tear-jerking acoustic singer-songwriter thing well, he even adds a touch of the pastoral to his repertoire, but it's only on 'For Your Love' we really see him colour outside the lines and delve into uncharted(ish) territories. The result is electric. Record's formula is likely to prove popular, but to move from lovely/nice/good into the next echelon, he's going to need to supercharge his sounds and throw away the rulebook.