Known to the industry for his musicianship, the versatile and gifted Phil Stoodley finally released his exceptional debut album, No Surprises. Introduced to music early on, Phil joined a heavy metal band and found himself performing around the local New Zealand music scene. Before long, Stoodley landed work as a cover musician and spent several years of his career touring his home country. As the 2000s approached, Stoodley began to transition from cover work and scored a gig traveling abroad with The Feelers.
He further branched out and garnered both popular and critical acclaim with his band, Stoods. With dual roles as founder and frontman, his band went on claim best songwriter and singer accolades at New Zealand’s Battle of the Bands. Stoodley’s growing reputation in the industry eventually led to projects with recognized artists like The Revolvers and Simple Minds.
While putting years in the industry and carving out his name, Stoodley finally released a debut solo album, No Surprise, back in January. To be expected, the album is masterfully executed with layered sounds, an eclectic mash of influences and Stoodle’s stand-out vocals. The album came swinging out the gate with the single, We Don’t Talk Anymore. With a recurring pop beat that feels inspired by 80s bands, like Simple Minds, We Don’t Talk Anymore is an appealing track that fuses heartbreaking lyrics with a warm, indie pop sound.
A real gem on the album, is the beautiful and melodic track, Walk forward in Motion. Here, Stoodley vocals melt right into the composition like one of its many intricate sounds. The single encompasses a unique, haunting quality that’s balanced with his slightly synthesized pop current. With this track and throughout the album, Stoodly is clearly teetering the lines of various music influences and genres; wrapped in emotive lyrics, No Surprise, evokes real images of characters through powerful storytelling.
In keeping with the eclectic nature of this debut, Stoodley takes a break with Say What You Mean, a slower, blues-infused rock acoustic that one of the most personal tracks on the album. Without a layered backdrop of instrumentals, pop and rock, Stoodley is clear and vulnerable on this minimal track that centers strictly on lyrics. When reflecting on Stoodley’s career, this album feels like everything one would expect from an industry veteran who’s finally crafted his long-awaited debut.
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