Words: Theo Lloyd-Hughes of Sports Day Records
I never had an imaginary friend growing up. I suppose, I was either totally content with my friends in the real world or severely lacking in an imagination of any sort. However, if I’d have had the heart - back then or even today - to conjure up a buddy, I think it would be pretty close to Arthur Shea. Different, multi-faceted, adventurous but always friendly.
Arthur Shea’s idiosyncratic bedroom pop is up there with the most exciting music being created on the internet today. Sonically inhabiting the atmosphere and lo-fi charm of Daniel Johnston, whilst also darting across the famous rhythms of alternative stalwarts Deerhunter and Atlas Sound; you feel like you’re far away in a waterfall of sounds as his debut album, Arthur’s First, washes over you.
12 tracks, like collages of old Elliot Smith songs cut and pasted back together with hip hop/RnB beats, sail by on his debut. Amongst throwaway spoken asides, “oh I feel awful..” and tuneful crooning choruses “I wish I could look at you, for 100 years…”, you are hooked by Arthur’s unpredictable and endless melodies. Like many great artists, his personality is burned into the tracks. Arthur’s First has that instant recognisable charm where it only takes a few seconds of his mis-matched beats, yearning intimate vocals and wavy tremolo keyboards to tell you: you’re listening to Arthur.
When you first come face to face, or perhaps I should say face to screen, with Arthur, you are warmed and welcomed by his nocturnal lullabies. Despite not knowing who he is or what he is singing about, you feel familiar with his tone and sentiment. He’s a stranger for sure, but his music acts like a stranger you might yourself invent. The kind of stranger you might reach out to, even sympathise with. He’s the stranger in all of us, the imaginary friend we didn’t dream up as we swiped left and swiped right and swiped left again…