3 stars (out of 4)
At its best, Nick Waterhouse's music sounds like it was recorded at a house party just as it shifts toward oblivion. Saxophones squawk, guitar solos lunge; even the drums sound distorted. Waterhouse's pleasingly wrecked guitar playing is matched by singing that teeters out of control every so often, like he's trying to tamp down a wild animal in his throat. Only the female backing vocalists maintain their cool, as if teasing their overheated bandmates.
Waterhouse is in his mid-twenties, and he owes almost everything to music that was created before he was born. But unlike the period-piece posturing of some of his retro-soul peers, Waterhouse isn't interested in precise replications on his debut, "Time's All Gone" (Innovative Leisure). Instead he aims to channel their volatility; what he likes about those scratchy 45 rpm singles is how unstable they sound.
He's not a persuasive enough crooner to pull off a ballad such as "Raina." But when he embraces the implied threat behind "(If) You Want Trouble," raves on about "Some Place," and laments that "Time's All Gone," he sounds deadly.