Review: Jack Foley
THE Blue Nile can hardly be called prolific, having only delivered
four albums in over 20 years, but their reputation is such that
each new effort demands the sort of attention usually reserved
for the likes of The Beatles or Oasis.
Hence, critics have been falling over themselves to lavish praise
upon High, their first long-player in eight years, hailing it
to be another stroke of masterly genius, and one of the best releases
of the year.
And the reasons for their time outs? Nothing so rock 'n' roll
as the bad boy antics of bands such as The
Libertines or Oasis, but rather a catalogue of bad luck, and
rotten record companies, that would have tested the resolve of
even the most mild-mannered outfit.
Not to mention an ME-type illness that kept their singer and
guitarist, Paul Buchanan, out of action for a couple of years.
The back story of The Blue Nile is almost as melancholy as the
music they produce, even if there is a beguiling beauty about
much of the album's content.
Make no mistake, this isn't music that's likely to ease you out
of a depression; rather, it's an existential observation on life,
packed with regret, yet laced with some beautiful imagery.
Buchanan's window on the world may be rain-soaked, half the time,
but there is something reassuring about what he has to say - almost
as though he may suffer from the same anxieties that we all suffer
Tracks such as the recent single, I Would Never, for
instance, contain a yearning and a longing we can all identify
with, while the title track, High, is a piano-led opus
that screams heart-break and missed opportunity.
Buchanan's vocal style occasionally contains shades of Peter
Gabriel and Bryan Ferry, but there is no getting away from its
unique, haunting quality, which has a penetrating power about
it - so much so that you are compelled to listen to the moody
pictures he creates.
Lyrics such as 'girl leans on a jukebox, in a pair of old blue
jeans, says 'I don't live here, but I don't really live anywhere',
contain an intoxicating beauty that need no images, as do the
likes of 'a girl at the bus stop, reading postcards from nowhere,
it feels like a movie'.
Needless to say, the tracks in question, Because of Toledo
and She Saw The World, rate among the best on the album.
As does the more upbeat Everybody Else, which even finds
Buchanan proclaiming that he 'woke up good this morning'.
High certainly won't be to everyone's taste, given its
meticulous, slow-building nature, and its tendency to provoke
sadness rather than happiness, but it does mark a major work from
one of the most consistently brilliant bands to have emerged from
Scotland in years.
The fans, who have remained loyal for so many years, will find
the wait has been worth it.
1. Days Of Our Lives
2. I Would Never
3. Broken Loves
4. Because Of Toledo
5. She Saw The World
7. Soul Boy
8. Everybody Else
9. Stay Close