Label Bella Union Release date: 04/01/10 Website www.myspace.com/lawrencearabia Lawrence Arabia (a.k.a. James Milne) is a musician from New Zealand with a knack for mixing Americana music with classic 60s pop, a sound that sadly has got him some comparisons which feel that take away from his own merits. So let's get it out of the way: any comparisons with The Beatles is not only uncalled for, but it's a little too obtuse too call anything pop with a wall of sound production “Beatlesque”. Hardly something endemic to the Liverpudlian foursome, right? Still, if one should go into that path, well, there is a similarity with The Beatles: it's people playing instruments. And they breathe. Now, back to the album. It does sound very sixties, not only on production terms, but also on the artistic side. Indeed, 'Apple pie bed' could as well be a 10p vinyl single you found in a charity shop, with overlaid vocals, falsettos and a beautiful glockenspiel playing a duet with a soulful, reverberated guitar. Mixing different styles of music, all decently syncopated when required, is the strength of Lawrence Arabia. Granted, it sounds like a lot of pretty familiar stuff, but it does a very good job at it, like a long lost mixtape of unknown, long-forgotten 60s baroque pop act. 'The Crew of the Commodore' is a bit of an endurance test, easily needing a trim around the edges (or a few minutes). This song is the first step into the downward spiral. Alas, this song announces that here comes the only major downer point of this album: the last four songs. There's two mammoth five minute songs (or an EP in the 60s) that sadly don't seem to go nowhere, killing the great mood built up by the previous 6 songs (specially the preceding 'Eye A', which is top class). These four songs either plod (the aforementioned 5 minutes song) or just feel like familiar ground being walked all over again. Still, the good outweighs the bad and Mr. Milne does have a great voice and a tact for composing some pretty hummable tunes that hopefully will be a stepping stone into greater things. Rating: 6.5/10