Released 6th March 2006
Bruised and bloodied, former Hefner frontman Darren Hayman crawls out from his car wreck life armed with only his battle-scarred telecaster and ukulele for protection. Darren’s been given a right kicking by the music biz, but he’s not down – in fact, he’s smiling ear to ear. In the two years since his last album with The French, Darren has worked for the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals and Battersea Dogs Home, gotten married, formed a bluegrass band, put on a lot of weight and studied an Art PGCE at Goldsmiths College. “If I don’t work I go nuts, I wasted 6 months addicted to internet chess,” says Hayman. This album is his best so far; until the next one. Real drums and guitars mark a return to the indie folk style of Hefner, but better. “Every time I write a song, it’s better than the last one,” continues Hayman. “I thought it was that way for everyone?”
The songs on Hayman’s debut solo album, Table for One, concern crumbling cafes, dog charities, a broken hearted Doug Yule, retiring school teachers, and air hostesses plummeting to their deaths. It’s not fun in Darren’s head, but it IS fun to watch and listen from a distance.
Darren Hayman, Table for One (Track & Field) David Peschek The Guardian, Friday 10 March 2006 5/5
Late of Hefner, Darren Hayman is London’s laureate of sexual dysfunction, discomfort, and dog-eared under-achievement. After Hefner’s demise, he made a record of sublime, bittersweet electropop under the moniker the French, but found himself prevented from further recording by contractual wrangles.
A free man at last, he is moving into warmer, more organic territory on Table For One. Hayman’s world might seem grimly parochial but prickly moments of recognition lift every song into something sweetly noble and moving. Best is the almost unbearably poignant Doug Yule’s Velvet Underground, which restores a little dignity to the band’s brutally unloved final phase, “with none of the original members ‘cos Maureen thought she’d take a rest”.
As the music wheezes, rattles and chimes around him, you realise he’s the match of Ray Davies, or any of the quintessentially English masters.