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Mark Morriss - A Flash of Darkness (Review)

Mark Morriss, A Flash of Darkness

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

THERE’S lots to admire in former Bluetones frontman Mark Morriss’ solo album A Flash of Darkness, not least a superb cover version of Kavinsky’s Nightcall (the standout track from the Drive soundtrack).

There are also some memorable original songs, some of which recall the indie-pop breeziness of Morriss’ former band, and others that demonstrate a broader ambition (sometimes cinematic) as well as classic folk-pop elements.

The album hooks you in from the outset with the cinematic opener and title track A Flash of Darkness, which unfurls as though setting up a Spaghetti Western (or a Quentin Tarantino movie) before suddenly careering into a jaunty, jolly sea shanty. It’s a lively foot-stomper of an opener that succeeds in making you want to hear more.

And while some of what follows is forgettable, the album overall has enough strong moments to make sure that it should get noticed and embraced by a large following.

Consuela is sun-kissed folk-pop that’s awash with pop culture references (including Bergerac), It’s Hard To Be Good All The Time has a classic Bluetones quality from the band’s early breakthrough days as well as a vocal that’s reminiscent of both Andy Burrows and Neil Finn, and Low Company, which has a classic sense of Neil Young about it and is a great country-rocker in its own right. Early on, it’s quite sedate but it bulks up to have a nice gritty rock sound about it, complete with great instrumental layering.

Elsewhere, This Is The Lie has an instantly addictive hook and some great lyrics such as “I wake up alone a lot more these days, which is good, I talk to myself a lot more these days, which is good”, before qualifying it with “this is a lie that I tell myself”. It has a wonderfully subversive quality, while juxtaposing the melancholy underpinning it with some easygoing melodies. It’s a great record.

Space Cadet, meanwhile, has a future pop sound that, ironically, also recalls classic Bowie as well as more contemporary Andy Burrows (again), while Nightcall is a really, really great cover of a great song in its own right. For this cover, Morriss has replaced the electro-noir of the original with an acoustic backdrop, lending the track an even more haunted quality. It’s brilliant.

Another cover, meanwhile, of The Shins’ Pink Bullets merely underlines Morriss’ uncanny knack for bringing something new and worthwhile to tracks that he admires.

With his latest solo offering, he’s on fire. And one can only hope that this record lives long in the memory rather than disappearing in a flash (like his little-known debut solo offering). It deserves to shine bright.

Download picks: A Flash of Darkness, Consuela, Low Company, This Is The Lie, Space Cadet, Nightcall

Track listing:

  1. A Flash Of Darkness
  2. Consuela
  3. Guilty Again
  4. It’s Hard To Be Good All The Time
  5. Pink Bullets
  6. Low Company
  7. Life Without F®iction
  8. This Is The Lie (and That’s The Truth)
  9. Space Cadet
  10. Nightcall
  11. Sleep Song