If only parents the world over knew the impact their record collection will have on their children then perhaps they would think twice about what music to listen to. You hear stories of expectant mothers playing Mozart and Beethoven in close proximity of their swollen tummies in the hope that the complex arrangements will somehow boost brain activity so when the baby finally pops out he – or she – are geniuses.
Taken for the suitably named Travels, Flynn‘s debut solo album, Automatic People, is a pop-rock meander through the modern city rush hour, one which crackles with the hustle and hassle of those caught in traffic, rushing to get to work on time and the rat race of the nine to five which is the reality for most of us. Mixing jangling interludes with heavy guitar rhythms, keyboard washes with pulsing bass runs, it is as musically pacy and diverse as the picture it paints.
If Drowning saw Echoglass playing with subtle balladry, Blackburn Boulevard took a more indie-pop route and Last To Know wandered some wonderfully Americana musical pathways, Memories seems to tie all those ends together. It has depth yet sass, it tugs at heartstrings, joins country vibes with the folk sounds which in part informed its development, pulses with pop prowess and wanders dynamic highs and lows so effortlessly that you can’t see the join. It also reminds me, in some ways, particularly the vocal structures and deliveries of REM! That’s a good thing right? Quite right!
In fact it is hard to think of a sector of the music buying public who couldn’t find something to love in this song. It crosses borders generically, geographically and chronologically and offers a song which seems totally in keeping with the cross-referencing, cross-cultural, small global village that the creative world is now based on.
Country grooves leave dusty footprints across the record and acoustic rock music brings the required swagger but there is so much more going on here as well. Bluesy bar-room piano adds some wonderfully deft touches and the emotive guitars which frame the song wander down some fantastic Southern rock pathways. It feels at once retro, contemporary and brilliantly forward thinking…how do you even do that?
I must confess that whilst most reviews of this album are going to open with Morriss’s credentials or the announcement of a Bluetones reunion tour, the reason this album excited me was the fact that he covers Sisters of Mercy’s goth standard Lucretia (My Reflection) and I was massively intrigued to hear someone so far outside the genre’s take on such a song.
Normally songs that form a big part of our formative years as The Sisters did with my own become a taboo subject when it comes to cover versions as they rarely eclipse the original in your own eyes, just as only one sequel in the history of film has been better than the original. (*Answer below) So expecting the worst, I actually got something rather fantastic, a gentle, wistful pop version that stood on it’s own legs. Where as Eldritch went for dark testosterone, Morriss goes for late night ambience and fragility and by Jove it works.
As an insight into Morriss’s influences this re-imagining of his own record collection covers some unexpected ground, delivers some wonderful reworking’s and unlike most albums of this type and a far cry from the likes of Rod Stewart crooning half-heartedly through The Great American Songbook, brings something new to the table. Fans of Buffalo Springfield, Madonna, Rain Parade, Jesus and Mary Chain and Scott Walker will, I’m sure, have a similar tale to tell.
*that’s right, Aliens.