Where rock and pop collide, expansion meets introspection in a delicate balance. Employing the sweeping Britpop sound of the 90’s and quick, biting lyrics of recent, popular Northern acts, Mark Stoney has hand-crafted tunes worthy of arenas, pubs, and bathtubs – by himself. The electricity, solemnity, highs, and lows of Stoney’s second album, The Scene & the Unseen, conspire to form a comprehensive sound that reaches a new British rock summit. It features the self-deprecating charm and brisky poetry of acts like The Streets along with intricate, but powerful melodies being perfected since the Beatles.
Stoney is unavoidably British, detailing a lower middle-class life of disappointment, disillusion, but also of invention and hope. "Soap in a Bathtub" coils its potential in a lurking, rolling tempo, occasionally releasing the tension in a lofty chorus. "Until You Leave" cynically taps and claps its way around a "suburban hell". "Now’s a Good Time" injects backbone into bottom-of-the-bottle rhythms. At the end, "One of You" is the ugly duckling to "Underdog"s swan that hints at Stoney’s unassuming, prodigious abilities.
Stoney picks up where contemporary Britpop acts have left off and taken it to the next level. His talent is enormous, but at the same time, bounded by the limitations of his surroundings. The Scene & the Unseen is sure to be more successful on its home turf, but universal acclaim is assuredly possible for Stoney. There’s certainly a lot more to be accomplished and this album is unquestionable momentum.