Where's the download, Amazon?,
This review is from: Swagger (Audio CD)
Every once in a while something comes along that makes you sit up and take notice. Or so the old adage goes. In my case Swagger by alt rock also-rans, The Blue Aeroplanes, is that something.
I missed out on this release the first and second time round so my opinion isn't swayed by nostalgia, just a soft spot for indie bands of the old school. And The Blue Aeroplanes jangle along like REM in their prime. I guess the unique selling point for this band is its lead singer, Gerard Langley, the missing link between Michael Stipe and Allen Ginsberg. He talked rather than sang, reciting his beat poetry in dark glasses while a dancer `interpreted' the songs.
The album begins with Langley asking the listener to "Pick a card... any card" as guitars chug away before he opines "Wrong!" It's a great start to a brilliant song. I couldn't venture to tell you what it's about but it's up there with opening numbers such as Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and The Queen Is Dead as a statement of intent. `World View Blue' follows and features a great chorus. Yes, chorus. Despite Langley's style of delivery there are `conventional' song structures at work here. `Love Come Round' is positively chipper - The Blue Aeroplanes channeling Shiny Happy People by way of a killer Johnny Marr-like riff. On `Weightless' and `Your Ages' the BA's are ethereal and really rather touching. Things should come unstuck on `The Applicant', where Sylvia Plath's poem is given the rock treatment. It's in fact another highlight. On hearing this song for the first time I figured the lyrics were Langley's own, delivered as they are so naturally and adapted seamlessly by the band. `What It Is' breezes along on lovely plucked guitars and belies its 6 minutes plus length. An urban myth tells of Michael Stipe making an appearance at this point to hum along in the background. `Anti-Pretty' is another slab of fop pop perfection. The reflective, acoustic `Picture Framed' segues into the propulsive `Cat-Scan Hist'ry' to round off proceedings. If it wasn't for the inclusion of Careful Boy sung, yes sung, not by Langley but some other band member I'd give the album 5 stars not 4. It's the kind of indie bed-wetters song Belle and Sebastian fans would clamor for but not my cup of tea.
Having been re-mastered and given the Deluxe treatment, Swagger comes with a raft of bonus tracks, most of which are only of interest to collectors. Razor Walk is pretty special though and the non-album single, You Are Loved is also worth a listen.