Following his debut solo acoustic EP Three, Four in 2005 with a full rock band-arranged album two years later, Ryan Ferguson draws an even clearer line between his past in No Knife and where he is now on Only Trying to Help, which, perhaps but not entirely surprisingly, is essentially brawling post-Beatles pop. In an era where Jellyfish's quixotic attempt at fame has now become canon and ELO have been given a retroactive seal of approval, it's not too surprising to hear this approach, though somehow it all feels overly familiar, a one-man power pop band in the vein of tons of similar acts in the past. This said, Ferguson's clearly got both the energy and the chops, and his sweet but sharp delivery throughout suits the simultaneously warm but nervous arrangements; on a song like "X's and O's," where the chunky riffing on the chorus leads into an easier-going chorus, he works the balance very well. Slightly quieter songs like "The Imposter" give him a chance to show off both more wistful singing and a generally more romantic approach (on said song heightened by a fine string arrangement, similarly so on the penultimate "Must Be Friday Night," which might be the album's secret highlight in its end-of-the-movie feeling).
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett