Two and a half years on from third outing, ‘A Different Kind Of Fix‘, Bombay Bicycle Club presented a record which built on the successes of its addictive predecessor and dazzled from the off. The wealth of riffs across its forty-five minute running time is quite remarkable, like an encyclopedia of popular music grew legs and formed a band. Evoking memories of My Bloody Valentine, The Sundays, James, The Beach Boys and plenty more, the whole thing whizzes past like a raucous carnival. Its incessant energy is wonderfully endearing without seeming unduly affected.
The robot-warfare-in-a-tumbledryer production deployed on ‘Feel‘ delivers a squelchy, whirling tornado of looped vocals and huge crescendos, while the delicate, lulling confessional ‘Eyes Off You‘ occupies a sparse soundscape not dissimilar to James Blake at his least annoying. This track, in particular, demonstrates how far this band have come from the chirpy but utterly insubstantial ‘A Different Kind Of Fix‘. The space around the song is all the more powerful for being in stark contrast to the whirlwind around it.
The sweeping electronica is present once again, with synth swirls and layered harmonies all over the place. ‘It’s Alright Now‘ skitters around with Jack Steadman’s tight-trousered yelp cooing away throughout, while long-time collaborator Lucy Rose lends vocals to several tracks. However, it is Blackpool singer-songwriter Rae Morris who guests on the rather magical ‘Luna‘, a track which ensures the second half of the album matches the impressive pace of the first. The plastic string sounds which jut in around the chorus cannot detract from the fabulously heady Middle Eastern melody that underpins the track.
BBC’s ambition was there for all to hear on their last record, but it is with ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow‘ that they have fully realised it. What could so nearly have been overbearing or desperate to be loved is in actual fact sincerely captivating and euphorically playful. It’s easy to forget albums from the turn of the year when compiling lists at its close, but songs these good live on long in the memory.
It’s all picking up again now, after the dreaded summer lull. The beefy September releases are popping up and there’s plenty to like about August too. In addition to these, there’s the mighty fine debut from I Break Horses forthcoming on Bella Union and I can tell you now that both The Rapture and Laura Marling have fine albums on the way in September, Marling in particular having taken another massive leap between albums. Anyway, let’s do these three splendid releases, shall we?
JONATHAN WILSON – ‘Gentle Spirit’ (BELLA UNION)
Warm, fuzzy and unashamedly long, this gloriously languid debut solo outing puffs into view seemingly all the way from the late Sixties, with little interest in breaking new ground. Wilson has learnt his craft impeccably, having previously played for Elvis Costello, Jenny Lewis and Jackson Browne amongst others, and ‘Gentle Spirit’ serves to unleash his own voice, even if it is a slightly stoned whisper. Recorded sporadically over a long period of time, and very audibly unhurried, the title and pace of the album suggest that we could all do with taking stock once in a while, hazy guitar lines lulling the listener into a state of serene bliss. ‘Can We Really Party Today?‘ aches beautifully over almost seven minutes, gently sashaying through the verses, before shifting down several gears for the sombre chorus.
While the lyrics may be a little platitudinous at times – "When it’s all said and done, we are just dust on the horizon" from ‘Natural Rhapsody’ – on occasion a little simplicity and sincerity is all we need. Recorded to analogue tape, the sound is warm and earthy, Wilson professing that he envisages it as a double album designed for vinyl. As he suggests on album closer ‘Valley Of The Silver Moon’, his music is out of step with current trends. All of which is not to say that ‘Gentle Spirit’ is diluted pastiche; everything here is gorgeously sung and this woozy, gently uplifting collection of songs is pretty close to perfect.
Continue reading “August Reviews – Jonathan Wilson, Bombay Bicycle Club and Steve Mason & Dennis Bovell”
This month’s Clash reviews will be posted up shortly, but here’s a few current and forthcoming tunes which I have actually played quite recently for you to have a wee listen to. Can you tell I’ve been tinkering with Soundcloud at long last?
Firstly, from the marvellous ‘Fomo’, this is new from Liam Finn, entitled ‘The Struggle‘:
I’m currently working on a review of their upcoming album, but this is a fine way to launch their latest incarnation – new from Bombay Bicycle Club, this is ‘Shuffle‘.
The new album from The Rapture is a delight. I’ve even uttered the word ‘banging’ about this particular track. Apologies. But listen to this and try not to whirl around and clap in a malcoordinated fashion at some point. It’s called ‘How Deep Is Your Love’.
This is from a wonderful new album upcoming on Bella Union from Jonathan Wilson entitled ‘Gentle Spirit’, and this is called ‘The Way I Feel’. Click through and you’ll be able to find the whole album for a listen:
And finally, this is the sublime Bon Iver cover of ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ which I tweeted about over the weekend. Magnificent stuff, on the flip of the ‘Calgary‘ 12″.