Festivals

Disclaimer: Most, if not all of what I am about to write is based almost entirely on my opinion and observations on this topic. I advise that anyone reading this takes it with an ocean’s worth of salt.

So, summer is long gone, and with it, festival season has followed, along with all the straw hats, dodgy shorts, and premature kidney failure. This post wasn’t  inspired by the changing of the seasons, but rather, the news that Virgin are no longer sponsoring V festival. I’ve never given a shit about this event (aside from being mystified by how consistently average the line up has been), and somehow, I care even less about its future. My apathy towards this particular situation didn’t really surprise me, as I could think of at least seven thousand better things to do with a weekend – none of which involve going to a field to take obscene amounts of narcotics and dance like I’m fighting invisible demons. What did surprise me, however, was the realisation that I’m kind of over larger festivals on the whole, and am not sure if I was ever on board with them in the first place.

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If you take the right pills, anywhere can be a dancefloor.

It would be easy to blame it on age (27 might as well be one foot in the grave compared to the average festival goer), but bitching about getting older doesn’t stop it from happening – even if growing up means making compromises, and learning to hate fun. I believe there’s a little more to it than that though, as some folks religiously attend certain festivals well into middle age and beyond, and while it would be easy to assume that they are going through some sort of mid-life crisis, I have respect for their vitality.

The main issue with big festivals, is that the line ups have become increasingly “safe”, and in trying to please as many people as possible, they become unremarkable. When festivals were fairly new to me, part of the mystique was the idea of seeing five or six of my favourite bands in one day, getting shitfaced with my mates and passing out somewhere, then waking up the next day and doing it all over again. The “not give a fuck” attitude does still seem appealing, and while I can get behind the prospect of taking the opportunity to exist in a separate reality for a few days, it becomes difficult to ignore the negative aspects when the main attraction (i.e. the music) is totally mediocre.

This may sound like me being overly nostalgic, but for the past three years running, half of the main stage lineup from Reading and Leeds festivals have consisted of bands that were in their prime when I was a teenager. It’s kind of hard not to feel like festivals have stagnated when a line up is almost identical to something from ten years ago. 

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Admittedly, these headliners are pretty great.

 

While the bands are good in their own right, it’s pretty big ask to fork out upwards of £200 to see one band that I love, after enduring three bands that I pretend to sing along to during a majority of their set.

To me, it seems that Download festival would be the one of the offenders for this. Sure, there have been some decent bands playing over the years, but seeing Iron Maiden headline for what seems like the seventh year in a row would make it easy to jump to the (inaccurate) conclusion that rock and metal are dying genres.

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This picture smells of mud and sweat.

Of course, it would be impossible to talk about UK music festivals without mentioning Glastonbury, and I admit, it escapes the trap of having a mediocre lineup. Kind of. There’s no denying that every year, the lineup is absolutely huge, and while I still think there have been some fairly bland choices for headliners (see a pattern forming here?), it’s pretty unlikely that you would run out of things to do. I am not speaking from experience, however, as I have never been, and part of the reason for that is because of the tickets being released before the line up has been announced. While this is clearly an effective way of getting punters, I find it ridiculous that your enjoyment of Glastonbury is basically a gamble.

So all this probably makes me sound like a cynical asshole, and while that is a pretty fair assessment of who I am as a person, there’s another article here that goes into more detail on exactly why UK festivals are in decline. It’s worded far better than this post, but that’s because whoever wrote it is getting paid by the financial times, and I’m not. As I said at the beginning of this, all of this is pretty much just my opinion, and not an in-depth analysis.

With all this said and done, I’m not going to say that I’ll never go to another festival, and I don’t begrudge anyone who plans to do so. There are smaller festivals that tend to cater more towards specific genres (ArcTanGent, Slam Dunk, and to an extent, Secret Garden Party), some of which are shorter, cheaper, and/or easier the get to. While the article above suggests that these are causing the festival scene to become over-saturated, I believe that this is the way forward, from a personal perspective, at least. The alternative would be to see bands at an actual venue, and for me, this trumps a festival in almost every way. Sure, it’s a different atmosphere, but you get to enjoy a longer set, better sound quality, and the comfort of knowing that you probably won’t get hit in the face with a pint of piss when that big chorus comes in.

 

P.S. -After posting this, I realised that the link to the article I mentioned doesn’t work. If you really want to read it, type “UK music festivals in decline”, into google, and that should be one of the first results. It’s a pretty interesting read.

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QOTSA – The Full Back Catalogue (Part 2)

This is a continuation post- for the first part, click here.

Songs For The Deaf had elevated QOTSA into the stratosphere, and for good reason – it was an excellent album, with punchy, intense songs that got the blood pumping. At the time of its release, most of the alternative music community was focused on Nu Metal, but Queens of the Stone Age had no pretensions about doing anything aside from creating hard rock that you could shake your ass to.

It’s difficult to talk about the band’s future without mentioning the events that took place between Queens’ third and fourth album, and I’m not going to dwell on it for too long or even attempt to break down all the elements to it, as there is enough for another post entirely. In the SFTD era, if you asked anyone who wasn’t that familiar with QOTSA to describe the band, they would probably mention a ginger giant with a seemingly infinite cache of killer riffs, and a bald, bearded bassist who hates clothes and loves screaming. While this is not entirely inaccurate, there is far more to it than that.

The partnership between Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri dates back to Kyuss, and while Homme recorded most of the bass for the self titled album, Oliveri was a mainstay in the band throughout each era, and it was almost as if he was the ying to Josh Homme’s yang.

This all changed in 2004, when, after a lot of drama, Nick Oliveri was asked to leave the band. In a way, this shook the band’s foundation, but the media storm that followed it seemed to perpetuate the situation, and the question was raised as to how QOTSA were going to follow-up Songs For The Deaf. The band answered this with their fourth release; Lullabies To Paralyze.

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Lullabies To Paralyze (2005)

The album begins with an acoustic ballad, “This Lullaby”, which is a bare, thoughtful waltz about separation, and longing over lost love. I often skip over this track, but having only just heard it again after about six years, I’ve realised that it’s an excellent opener to the album. Not only does it follow on the reflective tone from SFTD’s closing track, but it blends very nicely into the second track, “Medication”, which kicks things into fifth gear without hesitation. I often feel like if I was driving to this song, I would have about six speeding tickets by the time the song is over.

The album itself is far more conceptual than the first three releases, and while the formula is the same, I find that there’s a greater range of dynamics on offer here. I’ve always thought that this is almost an album of two halves, with the first part being a little bit easier to digest than the second – not that the later tracks are outstandingly fucked up, but things get a little more experimental after “I Never Came”.

If I were to pick one track that exemplifies the whole feel of the album, it would have to be “Someone’s In The Wolf”. The track is a creepy, brooding seven minute epic, one which conjures up images of being stalked in the woods by some malevolent being. This album is probably one of the darkest releases from QOTSA so far, but parts of it seem to lose focus when compared to previous efforts.

Recommended Tracks: Tangled Up In Plaid, Someone’s In The Wolf, Everybody Knows That You’re Insane.

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Era Vulgaris (2007)

After another line-up change, Queens of the Stone Age changed their flavour again with Era Vulgaris, and even to this day, I would say that this album is kind of the wild card in the back catalogue. Right from the outset, “Turnin’ on the Screw” has a very industrial sound to it, with more brittle, thin guitar tones bouncing off each other, undercut with  buzzsaw – like synthesizers and fat, syncopated bass lines. This kind of crunchy, mechanised sound really gets into its element with “Battery Acid”, which is one of the most chaotic songs I’ve heard by the band so far.

To say it’s totally removed from Lullabies would be a little bit of an overstatement, as songs like “Into the Hollow”, and “Suture Up Your Future” fit the dark, almost bluesy tone of the later tracks of the previous album. Having said that, there’s more of a robotic influence running through a lot of the tracks, which is a kind of contrast to the organic, folklorish quality to LTP.

At the time of release, I loved the direction that the band were taking, however, listening back to it, I think that this is probably the album that I find myself coming back to the least. Not because it’s a bad album by any means, but because I find that I really have to be in a certain mood to really appreciate what’s going on here, whereas I almost always have time for QOTSA’s other albums.

Recommended Tracks: Turnin’ On The Screw, Misfit Love, 3s and 7s.

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…Like Clockwork (2013)

 Following some extensive touring of Era Vulgaris, and the formation of the short-lived (but excellent) Them Crooked Vultures, Queens took a break, partly due to Josh Homme being hospitalised, in a serious condition. The effect on the subsequent release was quite profound; with …Like Clockwork being a thoughtful, emotive album that probably wouldn’t sound anything like it does if it weren’t for the events that preceded it.

This isn’t to say the album is a slouch – the focus has come back to catchy riffs and a wall of noise, but this time around, the band have developed the most varied and rich aural palette of their career. Each song has a confidence and sense of purpose, and right from the first track “Keep Your Eyes Peeled”, there’s a good variation in pacing, and each song is kind of like a journey in itself. The layering on each song reaches new levels, as every member kind of has a chance to shine on each track, and you get the impression that this album was written with three (or more) lead instruments in mind.

It may sound like I am unreservedly praising this album, but to be honest I don’t have anything negative to say about it, as it is one of the most focused and strongest albums that QOTSA have released. If I were to pick out a stand out track, I would probably go for either “I Appear Missing” – a melancholic, almost desperate sounding song, which builds to a cathartic chorus, and an absolutely gorgeous outro solo. I think I’d have to give honourable mention to “Fairweather Friends”, which is a display in pure self-indulgence , done in the best possible way – as a bonus, Mark Lanegan and Elton John also join in on this track, because why the fuck not?

Recommended Tracks: I Appear Missing, Fairweather Friends, I Sat By The Ocean.

 

It’s hard to say where to start with QOTSA’s back catalogue, but I would say that if you want an idea of what they are about now, go for …Like Clockwork, but if you want a solid, kick to the gut kind of album, go for Songs For The Deaf. Not that the previous albums are bad in any way, but because these two albums kind of sum up the two sides to QOTSA’s sound.

QOTSA- The Full Back Catalogue (Part 1)

Happy Valentine’s Day! As someone who is terrible with relationships, I always have a bit of dread when it comes towards the 14th of February, and as per tradition, I have been unable to find a date. Rather than mope about the fact that I don’t have a special someone to shower with love, I’ve decided to treat myself. It would be tempting to spend the entire day getting drunk, eating cheese and buying more stuff than I can afford on Amazon, but instead, I’ve decided that productivity is the answer here (although I might be drunk later).

Queens of the Stone Age are one of my favourite bands of all time, and probably the main reason why I started playing guitar and bass; if I’m honest, I do believe that my life would be quite different if I had never listened to them. If this sounds a bit overdramatic, it’s because I’m trying to make an analogy between the love that I feel for their music, and the love that I would feel for a significant other. Not sure if that was obvious.

In the spirit of productivity, I’m going to do a short overview of every major QOTSA release, from their self-titled album, to “…Like Clockwork”. This post will consist of two parts, and will probably be quite biased, but I shall try to keep my head out of Josh Homme’s asshole for however long it takes me to write this.

Self Titled (1998)

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QOTSA’s debut release, from a songwriting perspective, is possibly the most straightforward one, but gives you a real flavour of what they’re about, while keeping a few remnants from the days of Kyuss. Most of the songs hinge on a central riff or idea, and the mood of the album kind of goes from dirty, trashy guitar and bass led jams, to slightly more reserved, almost longing moments, which really gives a sense of balance to the album.

The heavier tunes almost make you want to crush a beer can on your head (Walking on Sidewalks and Hispanic Impressions being good examples of this), but at the same time, they have such a strong groove that you want to dance (among other things) to them. The only negative thing I have to say about this album is that it just doesn’t seem to have as many layers as the other albums, and after hearing each track maybe a thousand times, I find myself skipping a few of them half way through, whereas with some of the later albums, I could see myself listening to the whole thing from start to finish.

Recommended tracks: How To Handle A Rope, Mexicola, Regular John.

Rated R (2000)

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Rated R opens with Feel Good Hit of the Summer, which is probably one of the most unashamedly hedonistic songs I’ve ever listened to – if you haven’t heard it, just look up the lyrics. After the initial shock factor, I kind of like to think that QOTSA wrote this song with their tongue in their cheek, or with a sense of irony, but I think that at the time of writing, they just really, really loved drugs. This sets the tone for the album pretty well; if their debut was a drunken orgy, then Rated R is a drug-fuelled odyssey.

The vocal work really reaches another level here, with some beautiful harmonies, and lyrics that I would have got tattooed on me by now, if it weren’t for my indecisiveness. Not only has Josh Homme become a more confident vocalist, but Nick Oliveri takes centre stage in a handful of songs, and the excellent Mark Lanegan guest stars on fan favourite “In the Fade”.  While the album is arguably one of QOTSA’s more spaced-out and mellow albums, it also features some of my favourite riffs by them, in songs like “Better Living through Chemistry”, and “I Think I Lost My Headache”.

Recommended tracks: In The Fade, Better Living Through Chemistry, Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret.

Songs for the Deaf (2002)

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This is probably the album that got most people into QOTSA, and is probably best known for featuring Dave Grohl on drums. Many people regard this to be the best incarnation of the band, and while I would say that their current line up is incredibly strong, it’s kind of difficult to ignore Grohl smashing the skins like they owe him money. Even now, watching videos of QOTSA’s live performances from this era gives me goosebumps. Songs for the Deaf is almost a concept album, with a majority of the songs either starting or ending with fake radio chatter, which is mostly pretty funny, but at times, comes across as if it’s trying too hard to be edgy. These little radio snippets, regardless of how you find the humour, give you a sense that the best way to listen to this album would be at full volume, while driving through the desert in a muscle car.

Almost every song on this album is an absolute powerhouse, and while there are some brief moments of respite during some of the later tracks, there is a sense of intensity and darkness that is hard to match. Despite the praises I have sung for this album, an elephant in the room is “Six Shooter” – while it’s good to hear some Oliveri flavoured madness, I find myself skipping this song almost every time I listen to Songs for the Deaf.

Recommended tracks: Song For The Dead, Hanging Tree, First It Giveth.

In my next post, I’ll be looking at “Lullabies to Paralyze”, “Era Vulgaris”, and “…Like Clockwork”. Things get a little bit weird from this point on…

Dry January- Part Four

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This is a continuation post on dry January. For previous entries, have a click of these – part one part two part three.

So, January has come to an end, and I’ve only had one set back (and four panic attacks) in my attempt to stay sober. It’s been a fairly eye-opening experience for me – it’s only been one month, so I’m not going to get carried away and say I’m going to start harvesting all of my electricity from potatoes and collecting water from condensation from leaves, but I would say that the break in routine has been beneficial for the most part.

Unlike previous entries, I’m not going to talk about how my weekend went at great length, as I locked myself away; partly because I didn’t have any plans, and partly to keep any last-minute temptation at bay. Instead, I’m gonna talk about my thoughts on this as a whole.

Within the first couple of weeks of the month, I did notice my sleeping pattern had gone haywire. It’s a fairly well-known fact that alcohol disrupts sleep, but I took this information with a pinch of salt, and it’s only in hindsight that I’m making the connection between going dry and surviving on maybe two hours’ sleep each night. I don’t think getting wasted would have changed this though, and I feel like I’ve regained my sanity in this past week.

Part of the reason why I am doing this (and why it is quite a big thing for me) is that for the past couple of years, I have rarely let a weekend go by where I haven’t gone out and ended up inebriated to some extent. This has made for some good and bad memories, although my recollection of some nights have  been like losing a set of keys in the sea. While I’m not complaining about having a fairly active social life, I’ve woken up one too many times over the past few months, thinking “what the hell did I do last night?”, and the hangover shame that I mentioned in my first post was becoming too much of a regular occurrence.

When I was asked if I wanted to take part in dry January, my mind instantly went to any social events that I had coming up, and how I would cope with not drinking. If I’m honest, I was dreading it initially, but there were a few signs telling me that I should cut back, and if they weren’t enough to twist my arm, then the idea of going paintballing as a reward sealed the deal.

One of the best things about this experience has been severing the connection between getting drunk and having a good time – while I was a little bit tense while I was out, once I settled into a groove, I was happy to spend the rest of the night sober as a judge. Now that I’ve seen the benefits of going on hiatus from drinking, it might not be as big a part of my life as it was this time last year.

As I mentioned in my last post, my skin is also healthier – here’s a comparison:

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This picture was taken a couple of weeks before Christmas. Notice the slightly glassy look in my eye, the redness of my face, and the pint of beer that is clearly in my hand. Not making any excuses here, but in the few days leading up to this picture, my eczema had flared up, and I had also gone out the previous night, so this may not be the best picture. The flare up was exacerbated by the drinking, of course, which was killing my self-esteem. Now, here’s a photo from yesterday-

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Maybe this picture is taken at a better angle, or maybe it’s the fact that I don’t have a turkey on my head, but without sounding like I’m blowing my own trumpet, I think that this is a slightly more flattering picture. For a start, my face is far less ‘warm’ looking, which means no longer have to lie to people that I’m sunburnt (very difficult to pull off in the middle of winter), and I don’t look quite so fatigued. Try to ignore the fact that the bottom half of my face is cautiously optimistic, while the top half of my face is worried that someone close to me has died. This is my go-to expression in pictures because if I feign a genuine look of joy, people might get their hopes up and think I’m a normal person.

So while I’m not promising to go teetotal (my best mate has actually been planning how badly he can ruin my liver this weekend), I have enjoyed the health benefits (both mentally and physically), and the financial benefits of not being such a wreck head. It all boils down to moderation; drinking is something that can be enjoyed, but if you let it control you, it can be an ugly thing.

While I wouldn’t say I was at rock bottom by any means, the fact that I was basing nearly all of my social interactions around drinking was beginning to do more harm than good. If that sounds familiar to anyone reading this, I would recommend at least considering going sober for a while. I know that sounds a bit preachy, and I don’t blame anyone for scoffing at the idea, but for me, the benefits have far outweighed the negatives.

Dry January- Part Three

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(This is a four part series on dry January; if you want to see how it’s gone so far, click here, and here)

So…I drank alcohol. And it’s still January. I could just end this entry here, but that would be kind of lazy, and I feel that I should justify why I fell off the wagon.

Night nffsnfnb?- Saturday, 21st January

I felt good about getting over the hump, and under different circumstances, I think I would have probably would have stuck it out, whatever plans I made over the weekend. This changed when a friend, who I haven’t seen in over a year, was visiting for one weekend only. I knew this was coming, as the plan was actually made the day after I agreed to go sober for this month. I know – great timing.

I can’t pretend that any drunken guilt I felt stopped me from having a good night though; it was great to catch up with my mate, and I would imagine that it would have been fun whether I was sober or not. Despite my best intentions to stay away from the sauce, my willpower crumbled fairly rapidly, as the playlist of the night was fifteen second snippets of early 00s pop songs, and various people going “WOOOOO” at the top of their lungs. You gotta have some kind of special potion to get through that shit. A few immediate downsides to the night-

  1. On Sunday, I was so hungover that all I wanted to do was throw up, and sleep. Not sure if it’s just because it’s been a while since I’ve had a hangover, or if it was the Long Island ice tea punishing me. Probably a bit of both.
  2. I have no idea how much I spent, and I’m still too scared to check. This probably tells me that I spent too much.

In my previous post, I mentioned that it was nice to be in control of my actions throughout the entire night, and while I don’t think I did anything too stupid, I had crossed a line by the end of the night where nothing I said made any real sense to anyone apart from me. Actually, I tell a lie – nothing I said made any real sense to anyone, including me. But, a few of my other friends slipped up on their dry January challenge too, and while I don’t believe I was influenced by this (I found out the next day), I don’t feel so bad about getting shithoused.

When it comes to writing about failure, it’s difficult to emphasise the importance of the challenge you are trying to undertake, without sounding like you are fishing for sympathy. Up until the last paragraph, I deliberately stayed away from the ‘F’ word for that reason; I don’t really see this weekend as a failure, more just a setback. While that sounds like denial or something I read on a motivational poster (it probably is), I’m choosing to see it that way because if I see it in a negative light, I would think that the challenge is as good as over.

If willpower alone isn’t enough to pull me over the finish line, I can’t pretend that I haven’t noticed the health benefits. The fact that I’ve lost about half a stone in weight is something I’m pretty happy with – I wasn’t too worried about my weight before this, but at times I felt a bit doughy and bloated, and I think drinking played a part in that. My skin is also a lot clearer, which is quite a big thing for me, so this is a good incentive for me to change my attitude towards drinking in the long run.

One step at a time though; breaking a habit that has been learned over time, and reinforced by British culture, isn’t gonna happen by magic. Speaking of one step at a time, I have five days to go before I am allowed to have a guilt-free pint. I probably won’t get completely smashed on the first day of February, but the jury is still out on that one.

Update

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Someone said I should add pictures to my posts to make them stand out more. Am I doing it right?

So up until roughly a month ago, I had neglected this blog a bit – partly because I didn’t have a whole lot to write about, but I also had a few metaphorical irons in the fire at the time. I’m not going to go into too much detail, but let’s just say I’ve been pretty busy with mundane stuff that would turn this relatively short update into a long one.

That’s not to say I didn’t have any down time, but any spare time I did have was dedicated to either trying to wrap my head around learning some insane basslines from the Cardiacs (a band I wrote about a few weeks ago), and playing Doom. Oh, and getting drunk. Probably some combination of the three.

That leads me quite nicely into what I intend to write about over the next few weeks; I haven’t done anything on videogames in a little while, so the next few posts will be focusing on a few games that I loved when I was growing up. It’ll mostly be FPS games, as they were, and probably still are one my favourite genres, but there might be the odd strategy game in there as well. One thing to point out is that this will focus on videogames that can be acquired today; this might cut out a few that really spring to mind but can’t really be tracked down without spending an absurd amount of money. While I have some fond memories of some of these games, I wouldn’t want nostalgia swaying my opinion, and as I haven’t played a few of them in over ten years, I wouldn’t really be able to go into as much detail as I would like to.

If anyone has any ideas on things they would like me to write about, please let me know – it can be about anything really, but if there’s any review requests, they would probably take priority. I can do with being opened up to some new stuff.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (2016)- TV Review

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Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is a 2016 series based (extremely) loosely on the Douglas Adams novels that feature the title character. It would be easy to jump to the conclusion that the name is the only link to the source material, as, aside from vague references to a couple of plot points from the books, this is an original story, set in a completely different timeline. There are themes that carry over, however, and the overall concept means that this new take on the mythology could fit well within the universe that was created in the books over two decades ago.

The series starts off on a bit of a disjointed note – the root of each strand of the plot is introduced in the pilot episode, and it’s quite a lot to take in, given the outlandish nature of the situation that unfolds. While Dirk (Samuel Barnett) and his reluctant assistant, Todd (Elijah Wood) are the closest things we have to main characters, the supporting cast get a fairly equal amount of screen time, so some of their intentions are a little more ambiguous than others.

I guess this kind of opening would work for some people, and not so much for others. Personally, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it – let’s just say despite the charm, I felt that it was a bit muddled, and I wasn’t in a rush to watch the next episode immediately.

The initial intrigue played on my mind though, and while there is a lot going on, there is, in a broad sense, an ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’ plot running through the series, and when they all interconnect, it gives a brilliant sense of payoff to the set up that precedes it. One tip before watching this – if you’re anything like me when it comes to mysteries, you’ll probably try to anticipate what’s going to happen next based on visual clues and deductions, but in this case, don’t bother. The twists and turns that the series took completely blindsided me at times, and in the end I decided to just enjoy the ride and stop playing the guessing game.

This may sound like the plot is unnecessarily complicated, but when things do seem overly convoluted, the absurdity of the situation is often lampshaded by the characters. This runs the risk of being clumsy, but the humour and pacing means that characters often say what the audience is thinking, which comes off as more self-aware, rather than awkwardly smug. A big part of the story focuses around time travel, which can be tricky, as there are massive opportunities for flaws in the logic behind how it all works. However, this is handwaved to an extent, and the audience are expected to just take it for what it is.

One element that instantly hooked me was the quirky, surreal soundtrack, as composed by Cristobal Tapia De Veer. This guy composed the score for the criminally overlooked Utopia, and in my eyes, he can do no wrong. He has a distinct sound, characterised by the unique blend of digitally manipulated samples of live instruments and vocals, with glitchy, synthesised madness. This adds an atmosphere that can drift between bouncy and lighthearted, to oppressive and menacing, but it gives a wonky, off kilter quality to every scene, and really brings everything to life.

Dirk Gently is not only aurally similar to Utopia, but also visually; while the latter is like a pitch black counterpart in terms of content, the two shows share a bold and vibrant colour palette, and often take advantage of long shots that allow the viewer to take in just how gorgeous it all looks. This, combined with the larger than life characters, gives everything a real comic book aesthetic. Speaking of the characters, while there are definitely ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’, it’s slowly revealed that there is a reason behind what they are doing, and they believe that they are doing the right thing, albeit through some morally questionable means.

One problem I did have, again, mainly in the pilot episode, was that Gently really grated on me. While this is intentional, he reminded me of an annoying teenager who acted like a goofball to get attention, and I found myself wondering if I was going to be able to tolerate him as the series went on. Fortunately, as the plot progresses, his quirkiness is downplayed somewhat, and his emotional range extends beyond that of a manchild in the middle of a sugar rush, which actually makes for some unexpectedly touching moments.

If I had written this review just after watching the season finale, I think my opinion would have been far more positive, but because I decided to re-watch the pilot episode, I am a little bit more mixed on how I feel about the series as a whole. I have spoken to a few people about this, some of whom loved it from the start, and others found it was a bit too out there, so perhaps it’s a matter of how grounded you like your mysteries.

Dirk Gently has already got the green light for a second season, and personally, I would say watch it with an open mind, and if you aren’t completely sold on the pilot episode, give the second one a try. If it doesn’t grab you after that, then it probably wouldn’t be your cup of tea. However, if it does reel you in, then you’re in for a treat.

(Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, season 1, is currently available on Netflix)