The Guardian

The Dr Who of rock'n'roll

In pop: Nic Armstrong perfects the art of time travel

Some photos of Nic Armstrong depict the 24-year-old in a corduroy peaked cap similar to the one John Lennon wore in Hamburg; in others he's wearing the tight scarf of 1964 Bob Dylan. The Nottingham-based Geordie, a former art student, is an unashamed retrohead who can re-create late-1950s and early 1960-s sounds at will. Other favourites of his are Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent. However, Armstrong approaches his craft with a mixture of love, wit and subtle irreverence, which manifests itself in shuffling Merseybeat tales of sexual misbehaviour.

With his dewy-grainy voice immaculately analogue-recorded by White Stripes producer Liam Watson, and melodies so instant they could arrive in a jar, these primal stompers such as On a Promise are made to be blared out of car stereos. However, darker moments display depth beneath the dust - especially I'll Come to You, a spectacularly haunting peek into a fracturing relationship. It adds up to an absorbing debut, a skewed fast-forward of the past that sounds curiously fresh today. (DS)