Alex Tompkins is a young singer/songwriter who recently released his debut The Only Place. He worked with Dave Griffiths (lead guitar), Jordan Shepherd (bass) and Jordan Calvert (drums). The song is certified commercial pop that sounds like a combination of Coldplay and U2. Tompkins follows basic templates for successful pop songs to a T and avoids any kind of experimentation that may make him stick out from a slew of singer/songwriters who had the same ideas he did.
If Tompkins finds the success he seems to seeking with these songs it will reside in the mainstream. The songs will resonate with a wide demographic of people who prefer to enjoy whatever is being played on FM radio rather than exploring the fringe of what music offers. There is nothing inherently wrong with that but the chance of Tompkins being embraced by the fans of bands like Grizzly Bear, Radiohead, My Bloody Valentine, Grimes and Kurt Vile is unlikely.
The EP opens with “Through The Scars” and sounds like a perfect meld of U2 and Coldplay. In fact it sounds so much like those two bands it’s hard to get a sense of what is unique about Tompkins. That being said the delivery is on point and Tompkins has an aesthetically pleasing voice.
“Letting You In” sounds similar to the “Through The Scars” and is perhaps even more aligned with mainstream pop. The high energy, optimistic vibe is one that you will find ubiquitous all over pop music these days.
“The Only Place” doesn’t try to reach the soaring energy of the first two songs. It’s more laid back and the vocals carry the song. Even the lyrics about more or less perfect love seem destined for the mainstream. He closes with “You” which is the most straight up rocking song in the EP.
At only twenty-two years of age Tompkins has plenty of time to refine his style. It’s obvious where Tompkins proclivities lie and that's within pop music. Whether you are trying to penetrate the underground or the mainstream the same thing remains true that you are most likely to find success if you have a unique, original sound. Even though The Only Place is well written and well delivered it isn’t as memorable as it could have been because Tompkins hasn’t completely found his own sound at this point. I think The Only Place is a solid start but I hope to hear Tompkins dig a little bit deeper into his own sound rather than wear his influences on his sleeve as his music evolves.
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