For doe-eyed David Turpin, the current musical clime is of little importance. Inhabiting a musical era far removed from angular indie bands with trendy haircuts and snot-nosed attitudes, Turpin's ambient musings have more in common with acts that experienced their heyday two or more decades ago.
Sweeping press release comparisons have already placed the Dubliner amongst musical greats like Serge Gainsbourg, the Velvet Underground and Pet Shop Boys. It stands to reason, then, that The Sweet Used-To-Be - an album that's been four years in the making - should resultantly be something of an instant classic. Alas, it's nothing of the sort, although the scattering of inspired moments are admittedly incisive and engaging.
Turpin's perennially-overdone vocals are the main sticking point on The Sweet Used-To-Be; the unwavering breathiness that opens the album quickly descends into what seems like an annoyingly affected routine, and though it's a style that indubitably fits the songs tempered by sombre, glitchy electronica (White Lemonade and Fly Away, amongst others), Turpin finds himself in real danger of being tagged as pretentious on more than one occasion.
The better tracks are those that see his album-marring panting reinforced by his female cohorts (Patience is a sleepy, gospel-infused dream, Nobody Knows, a Clap Your Hands Say Yeah-meets-Human League canter, and Like a Horse, a bloop-saturated, early Goldfrapp knock-off.)
There's no doubt that Turpin has the foundation of a good album here, but the fact that Melody Of the Plains - a warm, dreamy smudge of an instrumental, and the only lyric-free track on offer - is the best song is telling. Impressive production and some well-constructed arrangements just aren't enough to displace this from the 'coulda been a contender' pile.