The Bluetones were one of the underdog bands of the 90s. Despite a number of their tracks making it into the charts, they lacked the cult following and controversy of other bands of the era. While Kurt Cobain’s death was rippling through the music scene, and the Manic Street Preachers were suffering a inexplicable disappearance, the Bluetones were steadily releasing music and touring.
Since the band’s split in 2011, vocalist and front man Mark Morriss has pursued a solo career, alongside other musical endeavours. He released his first album in 2008 and his second album A Flash of Darkness is due out shortly.
Morriss hasn’t lost his nineties sound, and the album has the jaunty, upbeat melodies of that decade, accompanied by his distinctive vocals. The lyrics are very varied, sometimes pervaded by gorgeous metaphor and imagery, other times succumbing to simple rhyming patterns to create an easy rhythm.
…Space Cadet feels like a David Bowie on sedatives…
The cover of Pink Bullets by the Shins brings no new dimension to the song, feeling more like cheap filler for a sparse album, than an exciting new addition. Space Cadet feels like a David Bowie on sedatives, lacking the soaring peaks and troughs that make experimental tracks spectacular, and instead settling for a electronic whirring among a busy melody.
Some of the tracks are more impressive though. This is the Lie is a lyrically introspective track set against an uplifting mix of strings, percussion and vocals, that ends early enough to leave you wanting more. Nightcall utilises Morriss’ distinctive voice to create a slightly whiny but smoothly rounded sound that works well. Sleepsong somehow evokes a number of nineties classics, while still being original and fun to listen to.
…lunging from nineties revival to experimental electronic sounds…
It’s a hit and miss album, with Morriss’ use of Latin and sea shanty inspirations only partly successful. The album doesn’t seem to decide what it is, lunging from nineties revival to experimental electronic sounds. A couple of strong songs help lift the album out of the jaws of mediocrity – perhaps this is an album where the tracks are best judged on individual merit rather than trying to be a cohesive whole.