Basic Plumbing – Keeping up Appearances

Patrick Doyle passed away in 2018, and although he may not be with us anymore, the Scottish songwriter left us with a diverse legacy of music. He’s gone from playing guitar with various acts in his hometown, to being the drummer for Veronica Falls, all the while writing his own solo material. Keeping Up Appearances was posthumously released two years later under his moniker Basic Plumbing, and there’s not a better record to remember a life by. The album’s lo-fi charm is oozing with 90s nostalgia, akin to something you would hear on old soda commercials. Melancholy seeps through each track. With its hazy arrangement and Doyle’s laid-back delivery, you can’t help but relive memories from a bygone age. Doyle captures the feeling of contentment and loneliness with a playful attitude, resulting in a bittersweet work that’s both charming and heartbreaking.

“As You Disappear” is reminiscent of early Foo Fighters, with its jangly guitars coupled with languid vocals. A surf-y and floating slacker tune that details a falling out of friends. “Keeping Up Appearances” has a jittery yet subdued rock’n’roll energy. It’s rhythms and catchiness urging you to dance while the vocals hit you with a sobering gut punch.

“Sunday” is slow and meditative, like an early morning stroll, waiting for the sun to come up. The drums take a backseat as Doyle sings in anticipation: “Sunday comes and it won’t be long / won’t be long ‘till I’m coming back for you”. “It All Comes Back” sweeps in at an urgent pace. One of those hectic situations where everything seems to go wrong, and you remember all the mistakes you’ve made in the past. It features a bass solo — and makes it work! 

“Too Slow” channels Weezer, where the tempo and instrumentations are all turned down. Its minimal arrangement evokes an indifference to everything that’s happening, like one of those days when you don’t want to wear pants. “Strangers” is the closing track, the guitar chords weep with Doyle. This time in raspier, deeper vocals. A final note on a relationship that’s ended, also a captivating and somber note for its late songwriter. 

Keeping Up Appearances lends itself to easy listening. There is nothing overly aggressive or subversive in any of its content. It’s the kind of record written to express oneself and have fun. A snapshot of one’s life, spent doing the thing he loved the most — something that will live on with every new listener. We’re all very fortunate to have Doyle’s friends and family team up to release this record. Proceeds will be donated to L.A.’s LGBT Centre and CALM, (the Campaign Against Living Miserably).

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