There’s a moment during ‘Jerry’, which comes on like a much less needy Mac DeMarco, where Davey Newington ponders “why does the song have to end, why can’t I ever comprehend?” It’s a fitting proposition for a record that spirits the listener along at quite a pace, its already relatively concise thirty-five minutes stirring a melodic whirlwind.
The aforementioned Canadian slacker-rock merchant is not the most helpful reference point here, what with Boy Azooga traversing the genres at will. LCD Soundsystem, Fleet Foxes, William Onyeabor, The Black Keys, The Beach Boys and the Super Furry Animals are all carried comfortingly on the breeze of ‘1, 2 Kung Fu!’
The brainchild of an artist with a diverse record collection and an addictive love of music, Newington’s stage name sits atop a wonderfully rich set of songs. Having drummed for Charlotte Church’s similarly joyous Late Night Pop Dungeon and with parents who met in the BBC National Orchestra Of Wales, his pedigree is assured. The thrills here are immediate and, while its charms continue to unfurl with repeated listens, heard in suitably sweltering conditions could become an instant favourite.
‘Losers In The Tomb’ is the best thing Gruff Rhys hasn’t written in many a year, while ‘Loner Boogie’ offers garage-soul in a frenetic burst. ‘Face Behind Her Cigarette’ possesses a twitching synth, swaggering percussion and some of the stardust of William Onyeabor, a noted influence. While ‘1, 2 Kung Fu’ has a quite remarkable list of influences and sonic echoes, it never feels like pastiche. The giddy gear changes and effortless transitions make for a euphoric journey.
The sense that Newington has poured everything into this significant debut ensures an emotional resonance at the heart of songs like ‘Waitin’, with the spiralling repetition of its weary chorus set to cause all kinds of borderline obscene tingles within festival-goers over the coming months.
The love for his craft that Newington clearly possesses is writ large across these eleven songs and the bloated Sabbath crescendo of closer ‘Sitting On The First Rock From The Sun’ is a bizarrely fitting finale. It feels like a release, entirely lacking cynicism, simply the right thing for that moment in the song. It’s a philosophy that Boy Azooga lives by on ‘1, 2 Kung Fu’ to often giddying effect.
Words: Gareth James
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