‘Runaways’ sees Stephen Bradley – session and live musician for No Doubt – try his hand at making a fresh, electronic pop record. In doing so, he showcases a fairly varied array of instrumentation with some of it being quite nice on the ears. However, while the musicianship is there, Bradley seemingly has a tough time creating a worthwhile sense of intrigue, or even a sense of memorability.
If a more ‘chilled’ approach to his music’s presentation was the intention, there isn’t too much to complain about, it’s certainly a serviceable EP. But one can’t help thinking there was just about as much intent to make the record a danceable and catchy one. ‘Take You Home’ is definitely accessible, it has some pop appeal, it’s somewhat exciting, but it is probably the prime example of how the EP fails to really produce anything truly catchy, memorable or melodic in a way that captivates you. It’s as if there’s a more adventurous songwriter dwelling within Bradley’s mind that really wants to burst out but can’t. The aforementioned song comes after the opener ‘Feel the Music’ and ‘Cocaine’, which both lack any real impact.
The EP doesn’t really get any true sense of adventure until the closing track ‘Runaways’. The song immediately takes things in a quirkier direction, with strange vocal noises that hit one speaker at a time, which continue as the beat carries the song, and some brass filler creates a bit of an atmosphere. The song continues with this familiar instrumentation, charming lyrics (“We dance and move like runaways”), and angelic backing harmony vocals. The song is a lot more unconventional than the others on the EP, which seems to be where Bradley excels.
‘Runaways’ is definitely a safe listen, the general listener may find it relaxing or soothing, but there isn’t really anything to sink your teeth into. The production is what you’d expect; glossy and sophisticated, but those expectations aren’t really surpassed. A positive note worth mentioning is that Bradley’s vocals aren’t too shabby, as you’d expect from someone that has provided backing vocals for No Doubt.