record reviews september 2017

RODDY WOOMBLE

The Deluder (A Modern Way)

roddy

The fourth solo album by the Idlewild frontman is a largely brooding, atmospheric affair, the tone set by slow-paced opening number Look Back Like Leaving which, particularly in its almost spoken delivery, evokes the mood of Lou Reed’s Berlin album. The same holds true of the bass-led following track To Feel Like A Fool, although things perk up musically speaking with Jupiter, a walking bassline underpinning the track as Woomble intones the names of the planets, repeating the title in echoey vocals, before picking up a theme of secrets that we keep. But then it’s back to the skeletal setting of A Skull With A Teardrop, etched out with minimal keyboard notes and percussion, while Like Caruso, another introspective brooding number inspired by but nothing to do with the famous opera singer, is again built around the bassline as he sings about “not being expected to live much longer.”

Remember To Breathe which features a rippling harp-like backing and strings is a nicely cosmic moment and N'a Plus De Temps which features him singing in English and French, along with French female backing vocalist to a Farsfisa-like keyboard and a sort of crashing waves effect has a similar languid mood, while Any Old Kind of World Will Do is underpinned by distorted guitars offset by lush strings. There’s some dreamy melodies here, but the fact that it constantly has you comparing it to Reed does it no favours.

Mike Davies


GUN

Favourite Pleasures (Caroline)

gun

Formed in Glasgow back in 1987, the hard rock outfit enjoyed a string if chart successes, most notably their cover of Word Up. However, after taking a three year break, they returned to find audiences had dwindled, with the new album proving a poor seller leading to them splitting up in 1997. Eleven years later they reformed, bassist Dante Gizzi taking over from Toby Jepson on vocals in 2010 along with the departure of drummer Gordon McNeill, with the exit of Derek Brown in 2013 the latest in a seemingly endless stream of line-up changes.

Throughout all this, they’ve released an album pretty much every three years since 2009 this being their fourth and following on from Frantic which saw them back in the charts for a week at #50.

Fuelled by Gizzi’s break up with his girlfriend, this delivers much the same hard rock riffery that’s characterised their career to date, She Knows exemplifying their no nonsense rocking while the loping Here’s Where I Am nods to the glam elements in their makeup and the title track, apparently inspired by a former roadie’s sexual habits, lays down a funky groove behind the standard hard rock drive while showcasing new guitarist Tommy Gentry. Bizarrely Silent Lovers has a touch of Madness about it, although Black Heart is more in keeping with Purple and Aerosmith influences. As Tragic Heroes shows, they can whip up a catchy melody and hooks while album closer The Boy Who Fooled The World bear witness to their diversity with a simple voice and piano ballad, but, at the end of the day, although this will keep the loyal fans happy, the likelihood of it moving them any further up the ladder seems somewhat slim.

Mike Davies


STARSAILOR

All This Life (Cooking Vinyl)

starsailor

Their first new album in eight years following their return from hiatus in 2014, although the indifferent response to the greatest hits compilation in 2015 doesn’t bode well, this has James Walsh and co in good form announcing their return with driving, energetic opener Listen To Your Heart and consolidating with the punchy pop title cut featuring Barry Westhead’s tinkling keys and a soaring chorus. Take A Little Time and the slower paced Caught In The Middle are more soulful moments while Sunday Best is a fine stripped down and emotionally muscular piano ballad, giving way to another soaring stadium anthem in Blood.

With the exception of Best of Me, the remaining tracks maintain the mid-tempo/ballad approach, the U2ish Fallout with its cosmic instrumental intro and the falsetto sung rippling rhythm machine based FIA (F*** It All) both clocking in around six minutes before closing on the simple, short devotional love song No One Else with muted piano and strummed guitar. It’s a fine return to form, but whether the following remains substantial enough to return them to former glories remains to be seen.

Mike Davies

roots-and-branches.com 2017