Sync or Swim – Big Tide (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

There was a time when the term pop music didn’t conjure images of air-brushed karaoke kids, dance routines and banal repetitive, nonsensical lyrics. A time when pop and rock were merely extremes on a sliding scale rather than mutually exclusive forms. A time when melody was king, hook was the be-all-and-end-all and my Icicle Works t-shirt still fitted me. Damn it! If Big Tide have anything to do with it it is time to usher in such an age again.

Sync of Swim is the perfect record to remind us of pop music’s lost potential, a lush blend of jangling melodies, simple but effective structures, memorable musical refrains and shimmering 12-string gorgeousness…both a blast from the past and a rallying cry to lead the charge, or at least a gentle saunter, into a sunlit pop future. Pop mechanics, those who like to dissect songs and understand the intricacies of their make up, will revel in influences and inspirations from such classic acts as Big Star, Teenage Fanclub and via those a “standing on the shoulders of giants” acknowledgement of such cosmic folk luminaries as CSN&Y and of course The Byrds.

Hide Me In Your Spaceship drips with a wonderful romantic yearning with just the right amount of  tongue in check wit and wisdom that is the hallmark of Ben Thomas’ lyrics. Just this slice of retro-tinged loveliness lone justifies the price of the album, the fact that you get 9 equally noteworthy tracks is a wonderful bonus.

Thirst For The Limelight ramps up the power-pop groove, somehow sounding like a song you have been listening to all of your life, such is Thomas’ way with a lyrical hook and a melodic run and You Can’t Live Your Life on an E-mail is as silky smooth a slice of pop you will find this side of an early Church album.

Big Tide makes music out of time, something that obviously tips its hat to a number of  greats from decades past but in the cyclical nature of music fashion will probably prove to be way ahead of the pack, surfing a wave that is about to come crashing down on the beach where banal and cynical pop by numbers is currently sunning itself. It’s a wake up call that I am really looking forward to witnessing.

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