By the normal rules of musical evolution, the Bluetones should have died out long ago. Instead, they're still going in 2003, putting out another album: Luxembourg
. To the Bluetones' credit, it's an upbeat, gritty and swaggering album--"Liquid Lips" and "Big Problem", for example, almost slide into this new rock revolution unnoticed, and you can't help but think that if these songs were Strokes
' B-sides or Yeah Yeah Yeahs
' singles, then widespread respect would be instantly bestowed. There are some good tunes here (at least the ones that don't have mini piano solos or sound like the Longpigs), but they're in the minority, and the band just don't have a "cool" image to fall back on.
It's hard not to feel sorry for the Bluetones--to evolve sonically would open themselves up to ridicule and a barrage of rotten tomatoes, but sticking to what they know means facing, well, ridicule and rotten tomatoes. Despite similarly arriving after the demise of Britpop, the Stereophonics found themselves in a similar situation, but still found several million fans. The difference here is the tunes--good tunes will elevate any band above tomato trajectory height. The Bluetones need to rebrand themselves. They need to split up and form a new band with the same members. That, along with their songs about "radioactive smiles" and being "eight miles down", would make more people will sit up and take notice. --Ben Johncock