Nottingham's Bent are like the funny uncle of the chill-out world--scruffy, eccentric, often embarrassing, but lovable all the same. The Everlasting Blink
, the duo's second album, is like a similarly oddball relative; interestingly strange, but not the kind of thing you'd want to live with for any length of time. It's every bit as beautiful as the likes of Lemon Jelly
and Zero 7
, but with a roughness and fuzziness that makes it impossible to dislike.
In Bent's world, smooth grooves and multicoloured soundscapes are replaced by dodgy samples from cheesy charity-shop records, crisp beats and cheap ambient synth sounds. Their debut album, 2001's Programmed to Love, took this spiky cut-and-paste approach to extremes, with intensely laidback cuts next to odd electronic work-outs. On the other hand, The Everlasting Blink is a much smoother proposition--just as silly and cheesy, but with altogether better production and less freaky weird-outs. It's full of glimmering trinkets of sonic loveliness; gems such as the poppy "Beautiful Otherness" (featuring the Beloved's Jon Marsh on vocals); lead single "Magic Love"; semi-acoustic country sing-a-longs and quirky electronic interludes. For those who've already fallen in love with Bent, this is nothing new; for those yet to convert, it should be a revelation. --Matt Anniss
Bent's debut album Programmed To Love came bursting out into our living rooms three years ago. With choice tunes like "I Love My Man", "Always" and "Swollen", it heralded a new direction in leftfield dance, and in turn welcomed a new addition to the coffee table CD collection. Those Sunday Best tracks are now considered classics thanks to their over exposure on the latest All-Back-To-Mine-For-The-Greatest-Chillout-Album-In-The-World-Ever collection.
The Nottingham duo's new album, The Everlasting Blink, is by Simon Mills and Nail Tolliday's own admission their first album proper; their aforementioned debut to their minds more a collection of tracks. Regardless, the culmination of years of trawling second-hand record shops and car boot sales in search of the ultimate sample have produced a record that is firmly tongue-in-cheek and full of surprises.
Whilst the band are keen to stress this is not a concept album, there is a distinct theme with eerie soundtrack beds, kitsch sci-fi flavours and loved-up, down tempo beats en masse. Similarly, collaborations are aplenty: 1970s icon David Essex adds his two-pennys-worth to the Spanish guitar-kissed "Stay The Same", and country star Billie Jo Spears is to "So Long Without You" what Tammy Wynette was to the KLF's hoedown "Justified And Ancient".
The ethereal tones of the Beloved's Jon Marsh makes an appearance on the drifting string-soaked "Beautiful Otherness", while Captain & Tennille are expertly sampled to provide the musical inspiration on the beautifully lush 'n' dreamy lead-single "Magic Love". This is by far the album's standout track and with Ashley Beedle's remix makes the song an early contender for single of the year.
As a whole the chill beats and blissed out musicianship work well together and further highlight why Bent are the dons of eclectic cool and a slightly less pretentious alternative to, say, Air. Well worth getting your hands on. --Jack Smith
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