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Sweet Baboo's 'The Boombox Ballads' LP is perfect neo-folk

We’ve previewed you a couple of tracks off the new record from Stephen Black aka Sweet Baboo recently, but as of yesterday us and no doubt Moshi Moshi Records are very pleased to have the full body of work.

The Boombox Ballads is the follow-up to 2013’s Ships – a record that was comprised of a collection of touching if a little awkward-sounding sea shanties. Evidence of the kind of unusual approach Black takes to titling his songs can be seen from the not-so-snappy ‘The Morse Code For Love is Beep Beep, Beep Beep, The Binary Code is One One’.

This time around the record is slightly less swashbuckling, but instead filled with hearty love songs that are soft on the ear, while containing lyrical wit and swirling string backings that ensure the word twee need never be uttered.

Much of the record is rooted in folk but Black comes from a vibrant tapestry of endeavours, including being a former touring member of Slow Club.

However, there’s an intelligence and a need to read between the lines in Sweet Baboo’s own work that is rarely found in such abundance in the NME-ridden indie world that the Sheffield band seem to exist in.

The Boombox Ballads sees Black now reach album number five and demonstrate himself as an artist who has firmly mastered his craft. It’s not enough to simply be jaunty when it comes to pricking Far Out’s ears – and so here lies evidence of an artist who can marry melody, hooks, a narrative and quick wit effortlessly.

Inevitably, lead single ‘Got to Hang on to You’ probably goes down as the standout pop hit if such a cliche could be claimed of this record, but in at Track 2 it arrives and then exits pretty quickly, leaving a wealth of chamber-influenced, orchestral psychedelia to follow.

As the album progresses, Black introduces a female vocal and when we get to the euphoric-sounding ‘Walking in the Rain’, it almost feels some kind of brand new, truly exciting relationship has been consummated.

Get The Boombox Ballads on Moshi Moshi Records now and catch Sweet Baboo on home turf next weekend at Green Man festival.

Head here to read what happened when we caught Sweet Baboo & The Pictish Trail live at Gullivers in Manchester.

Patrick Davies