26 January 2015

The Waterboys - Modern Blues

Some bands just keep returning when you least expect them to come back - a bit like horror villains, you think they are dead and their ashes have been dusted over four continents; but someone has a medium rare stake and 'bmoof' you are surrounded by vampires.  The Waterboys are one of those bands which disappear for a while, then they come back; it is not as if main man Mike Scott is quite, in fact he keeps on releasing stuff all the time under both names (and has been on record saying he sees no difference between his solo work and any releases from The Waterboys.  I think this is why the Waterboys have gone through so many members - if you look at Wikipedia at the list, it is like a roll of honour.  This is the eleventh album under the Waterboys name, following on from the 2011 release 'An Appointment with Mr Yates' which was an album of music placed against the poetry of W.B. Yates.  I have always enjoyed lots of their work, but it is always mixed with a knowledge that they will probably explode before they can get any momentum behind the band.  In this modern age of x-factor/mass produced pop music, it is still good to see them back.  The title is a bit adventures if I am honest - they have not been classed as modern for a while and the cover is more natural and organic.  I am really looking forward to this album, but will these nine songs still feel relevant to their audience?

The first song is "Destinies Entwined" which sounds like it could be Dire Straits mixed in a large dash of folk rock, but also without Mr Mark Knopfler's flair for the guitar.  The more straight forward rock direction of the opening track is a strange one for me, but it is not an unwelcomed one to be honest; it is just I have heard this type of song done a lot better, nothing against "Destinies Entwined" but it is just ok.  "November Tale" is a slow blues/rock number which is laced with some strings over another number that is very familiar to anyone who has a slight interest in either genre.  Much like "Destinies Entwined", this song is not a bad song in any shape or form; but it is not an exciting number either - it is just a little dull and pedestrian.  "Still a Freak" picks up a bit of a Memphis flavour, it has a big ballsy 12 bar blues stamp driven through the centre of the song.  It rocks along at a nice pace and it is certainly a toe tapper, but much like the first few songs of this album it does not have a wow factor; it is just another decent number, well played but not essential. "I Can See Elvis" is the fourth track of the album, this song name checks a lot of artists (especially Elvis), with a more rock 'n' roll/country/folk vibe that has gone on beforehand.  The constant return to the 'I can see Elvis' line is a bit drawn out and even when it gets to a very impressive solo at the end of the song, it does not change that overall feeling of the album being just the wrong side of predictable and safe.  Granted I am not expecting acid jazz with drop d blast beats, but I am also not expecting to feel so safe that I want to drift off. 

Which makes "The Girl Who Slept For Scotland" a rather apt title, it is another slow and thoughtful song and it is just very dull; I love this band and it hurts to even write that, it is well done but ultimately just so safe and without excitement. Sixth track "Rosalind (You Married the Wrong Guy)" brings back the blues swagger and sounds like it has a bit of energy and bite; but once again it drifts into a safe zone and like much of what has gone on before is about two minutes too long.  "Beautiful Now" is another track that feels like it has a bit of something about it, yet it falls short once again; there is nothing fundamentally wrong with this song and that is what is more of a mystery to why it just feels so beige.  I found the more I listened to it, the more I felt as if the song was losing something - it is a real shame.  Penultimate song "Nearest Thing to Hip" is quite possibly the most ironically titled song on this album, it is as slow as a Wednesday afternoon in the rain.  It continues the overall theme of the album and it leads onto the final track of the album - "Long Strange Golden Road".  This track is long for the type of song that it is - this type of number needs to be about four minutes long at most, it is over ten minutes long and it could have all been said and done in three if I am honest.  It is well played and it is also far too long. 

This album could have been a very good album with some trimming off each number; maybe with an outside ear on the music, maybe it would have rocked the world about 15 years ago.  In this day and age, it is just dull, unimaginative, predictable, pedestrian and this is not what I would have wanted to write when I first picked up this review this.  I am sad to say that the golden touch which had made Mike Scott an exciting writer has left him; sometimes it is better to leave things said and done - please Mr Scott, just release under your own name and leave the Waterboys alone.  I said at the beginning I was excited, now I feel a little bit ripped off.  All the marks are here because it the music well produced, sadly it is also dull - did I mention that?

3 out of ten - Not for everyone but played well

Top track - Rosalind (You Married the Wrong Guy)

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Mike Scott/The Waterboys website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

If you are a Deezer user, here is a link for you

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