Farmer's Boys

With These Hands

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The understated pop of the Farmer's Boys is easy to digest, but certainly not vibrant enough to appeal beyond a loyal cult. The band's With These Hands will probably have listeners divided; some are going to relish the album's lighthearted mishmash of folk, country, and new wave, while others will express indifference. Both reactions have merit. Like Orange Juice, the Farmer's Boys write simple, catchy songs that are not slick or superficial enough to be considered bubblegum. The LP's ringing guitars and barbershop harmonies would've made it commercially viable in 1965; however, With These Hands was released in 1985. The Farmer's Boys sound as if they've just got off a time machine from the first British Invasion. The gleeful remake of Cliff Richard's "In the Country" could be played on an AM easy listening station without anybody noticing that it's performed by a gang of indie popsters. The group is having a ball and their gaiety can be infectious, especially on the rollicking "Phew Wow!," a party anthem for the brokenhearted. "You say you've lost your girl/It's not the end of the world," sings Baz to a depressed mate, and then later exclaims, "Let's go and do some drinking." None of the other tracks equal "Phew Wow!"'s mirth or energy, but slower numbers such as "I Built the World" and "Sport for All" are sufficient in making With These Hands a keeper.

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