Rod Jones, of Idlewild fame, has been working with his most recent side project, The Birthday Suit. Their first record, The Eleventh Hour, is Jones' first release since his acoustic demo A Sentimental Education, and his inaugural project serving as frontman.
Upon taking the stage, The Birthday Suit are quickly revealed as a glorified solo project. Even in standout track 'Hope Me Home', it’s obvious that, while the members of the group are proficient enough individually to make up a solid indie-rock conglomerate, the attention is too sharply focused on Jones himself.
While Jones’ solo release showed his ability to write simple and heartfelt songs best left unaccompanied, this group shows a lack of proficiency at being able to take his writing style and develop it beyond his own guitar. This seems most clear when the resolution of most songs comes in the form of an impressive but muddled guitar solo with Jones thrashing in the centre of the stage. The result is that the immediacy and sincerity of Jones’ song writing, as well as the beauty of his technical aptitude, is lost almost entirely on the band’s set. Ultimately, the group comes across as little more than a collection of studio musicians brought together to play poor, flushed out versions of Jones’s solo work.
In his attempt to translate his ability as a solo musician into a new project, Jones and The Birthday Suit miss the mark. What remains of the attempt is a confused and notably underwhelming remnant of his impressive solo demos.