“Caustic Love”,  after a major delay, drops today as Paolo Nutini’s follow up to 2009’s “Sunny Side Up”.

Coincidentally, within a week of Fatherson and Randolph’s Leap’s slow-baked debuts, “I Am An Island” and “Clumsy Knot” respectively. It’s clear there is no hurry amongst Scots just now to bring out LPs, debut or otherwise, but has the extra time taken reflected in the record?

“Caustic Love” opens with lead single “Scream (Funk My Life Up)” an unsurprisingly funky number that grooves beneath sexy lines, only the second line is referring to “sexed up strawberry songs”. It’s not so polished as to sound Mark Ronson produced as the horns continue throughout. The beats are kept straight but loose, although from the previous two offerings the production quality is undoubtedly up. This is further proven in “Let Me Down Easy” with samples, horns and strings aplenty, the time spent to beef up the record shows. For the first time in any of his LPs, the drums are more electronic giving off a slightly different vibe to previous releases. “Bus Talk (Interlude)” is also sample-based and wouldn’t sound out of place as a skit on an early Kanye West album. This is certainly not more of the same from the twenty-something Paisley boy as he tries keep it sexy and fresh.

“One Day” is a smooth waltz whereby Nutini first stretches himself vocally, crooning over the five minutes plus, it climaxes sounding not entirely unlike a Bond theme. The aim here is definetly to go big; the chorus of backing vocals taking interesting twists melodically over the original chord progression of the track. Guy Garvey and Co. would be proud to have had penned it.

The distinctively Scottish titled “Numpty” is all keys and bluesy guitars, laid back and groovy. He voices his womanising strife as he struggles with “responsibility” and “eternal monogamy”, not content to be be “building a house so we can fall at the first step”. The man does indeed pass many a caustic comment about love. The second interlude is a minute something type of groove that Herbie Handcock would stretch out to an eight minute jazz/funk jam entitled “Superfly” again with another sample it doesn’t contribute a whole lot.

If “Candy” was “Sunny Side Up’s” most honest and heartfelt track, “Better Man” is this LP’s equivalent. Again, this track clocks in at just shy of five and half minutes and is an ode to “that girl who’s made me feel so much better”. The arrangement and instrumentation is kept simple with the chords, repeating throughout on an acoustic guitar and plenty space with the overdub layers. The chorus of backing vocals providing some dynamic range.

The centrepiece of the full record which added to the buzz of the lead single with an Abbey Road session video is “Iron Sky”, on which Paolo’s social conscience comes into play. It’s even a bit alt rock at times; it contributes in a big way to the diversity of the record. The next sample is recognisable from film “The Great Dictator” as he echoes feelings and views of anti-corporation and anti-establishment, his thoughts on sexual freedom and power extend to humanity it appears. Again, it’s lengthy, but as a statement track it does well to not outstay its welcome.

“Diana” has a distinctive British R ‘n’ B feel, set above a slick bassline and half time beat. He pleads with the listener “do you believe in passion and romance?” and the instrumentation is not a million miles from the last Arctic Monkeys LP.
“Fashion” nods to a more mature female and features a self-proclaiming rap passage (quelle surprise!) from Janelle Monáe; the backing in the verse is a smart fuzzy bass riff. The lady in tribute in the song is an all singing, all dancing model of sorts “strutting cool down Carnaby Street” and “on the cover from December to December”.

Then comes the back to back of “Looking For Something” and “Cherry Blossom”. It’s difficult to not feel that these could have been edited far better with nothing really worthy of dragging either track out to what they are. The latter is a slightly rockier more soulful venture but Nutini’s line “Feel like I’m doing all the same old shit just with a different beat” ironically rings true a little.

The album ends on a good note however, with the dreamy “Someone Like You”, which surprisingly, was somehow allowed as a title. Like something from Noah And The Whale’s “First Days Of Spring” it’s subtedly catchy with the backing vocal chorus on this one sounding a little more Fleet Foxes than it had done previously.

Overall, “Caustic Love” is more mature and diverse than the two predecessors, he is evidently yet to settle on a style, but it’s difficult to imagine he ever will. The increase in the length of tracks and the compensation for the two interludes results in it not being the most focussed, but the quality for the most part is there. Professing his love for the ladies (while it’s difficult to believe that all of the “she’s” he refers to are the same woman) and showing concern for humanity dominate this album; perhaps next time there may be a more set theme. Regardless, the hope is simply that it doesn’t take five years to make the next one.

“Caustic Love” is out now.

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