Having previously directed several music videos for the Arctic Monkeys, IT Crowd star Richard Ayoade enlisted frontman Alex Turner to write six short, largely acoustic numbers to soundtrack his directorial feature film debut, Submarine. Though the sweet, understated quality of Turner's first solo foray perfectly befit the coming-of-age comedy set in 1960s Wales, it rarely grips like his band's work but sporadically inspires feelings of warmth and contentment.
Though recorded with The Composers Ensemble orchestra and featuring contributions from guitarist Bill Ryder Jones, Turner plays almost every instrument on this collection himself, taking on not only his usual guitar, but also piano, keyboards, bass and drums. The result is a sound that is misleadingly simple, often relying Turner's on simple acoustic guitar yet making subtle use of supplementary instrumentation. The changing time signatures of closer 'Piledriver Waltz' make it a clear standout, and while Owen Pallett's string arrangement is barely noticeable, its presence has a marked effect on the overall atmosphere of the piece.
Where the Submarine soundtrack really reveals its beauty, though, is in the lyrics. Turner's quick wit and turn of phrase has always been one of his finest qualities as a songwriter, but here it takes on a tenderer guise, immediately demonstrating the power of words with the short 'Stuck On The Puzzle (Intro)' and its brief two lines: "I'm not the kind of fool who's gonna sit and sing to you about stars, girl/but last night I looked up into the dark half of the blue and they'd gone backwards."
With Submarine's dreamy, sauntering melodies more suited to winding down, Turner's more romantic side may not appeal to all of his ready-made fans, but it has a gentle charm that can be difficult to resist.