Pre-lockdown Kyle Smith aka Pay The Man was well known for playing regularly around South Wales finding a highlight notable performance supporting Funeral For A Friend in Cardiff. Having been part of the local music scene and having played in local bands for some time there is no wonder solo project Pay The Man has struck a chord and landed with positive reception. Being a DIY artist has meant that the music has largely carried itself to the point in which the project finds itself in now on the cusp of the debut album release and that is, in itself, pretty impressive.
Title track 'Regulars' opens the album as an outpouring that ponders on key life themes such as confidence, relationships and even self-reflection on musical success. The song closes with the lyric "the story is boring, it makes me regular" which shows a realisation and rationalisation these things are normal.
'Situationship' brings a bit of bounce to the album, a lively upbeat acoustic guitar led track that talks of the frustrations of relationships, insecurities and the way in which these influence us negatively. However on the surface, without diving into its lyrical meaning, it's a certified banger.
Previously released 'Insert Coin' carries on a similar thread with all of the pomp and stomp of early Green Day whilst other previous and popular release 'The Busker' strips the mood right back providing an ode to self-reflection with regards to the juxtaposition of Kyle's own "pretty music" and the fact that it is raw and emotionally driven, often a feat found in acoustic music as a mask to its own reality beneath.
The other half of the album shows further diversity in musical composition with "Territory" and "See Straight" oozing all the nostalgia of an noughties acoustic emo/pop punk throwback whilst "The Patriot" probably shows off the true extent of vocal range beyond that of the melodious grit heard throughout the rest of the album.
In an album full of very real messages and themes of acceptance, relational trauma and the inevitable task of not feeling like you are enough final track "There's Hope For You Yet" takes all of the above and throws a positive twist at it, getting across the message in the titling of the track itself. Whether this is a message both to and from Pay The Man there is a clear takeaway that these things are part of life and moving on is possible. The song closes the album perfectly putting the world to rights in the space of four minutes. Song structure interestingly shifts between that of an Irish jig and a straight up punk chorus. Layered Woah-woahs close the song before the shift to a final play out of the acoustic guitar.
As a debut release from a DIY artist the level of creativity and maturity pouring out of this album is astronomical. The songs are relatable, catchy and diverse which makes for an incredibly impactful listen. For a predominantly acoustic album it is a breeze to listen to whilst demanding of attention through well thought out song structures and lyrical themes. Pay The Man is the sort of artist you want to stumble upon and once you do will find it hard not to go back in for a second listen. A incredibly impressive debut.
'Regulars' is out now on Spotify, Amazon, Deezer Apple Music, Bandcamp and wherever you may stream your music from.
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