The Blue Aeroplanes - Welcome Stranger! - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Blue Aeroplanes - Welcome Stranger!

by Steve Reynolds Rating:9 Release Date:2017-01-06

Stalwarts of the British Indie Scene, The Blue Aeroplanes are back in the game with this their 12th album, Welcome Stranger!

Gerard Langley who is the voice and central mainstay of the band (besides original drummer John Langley) has a unique vocal that falls between the languid terse of Mark E Smith and the softness of Guy Chadwick.  His spoken word presentation and beat-poet approach to writing along with an unbridled toughness and resilience to not give up on the band is a remarkable achievement which is not to be scoffed at considering their lengthy time in the fashionista music industry.

Their own blend of indie, rock and post punk hasn’t dated one iota and when opener ‘Looking for X’s on a map’ hits the floor with a swagger befitting a gang of 20 somethings with its chest plumage pumped up and Langley's curt delivery licking round the back of your ear holes makes for a startling youthful and electric opening.  The fat free arrangement keeps on coming with the cocky ‘Sweet, like chocolate’, a ringing guitar and jolting rhythms compliment the vocals seamlessly,

‘Retro Moon’ tells the story of love both new and old and Langley’s world weary take on the world is carried by a virile slice of organ and accompanied harmonies that emanate a band glad to be back and happy to share and seduce us with their spirited return, renewed confidence and passion. ‘Dead Tree! Dead Tree! has a bucketful of jangle and Langley’s vocal dictates the play the way Iniesta has dictated the Spanish midfield for the past decade: “Try to be good try to be kind….it’s not the symbol of anything, dead tree, dead tree….it will still mean something to me”.

The splay that sits aplomb the glorious ‘Walking under ladders for a living’ and roomy arrangement sees Langley in an introspective mood, talking about superstitions and that even the most unsuperstitious of us still avoid walk under ladders: “she doesn’t have the language but she does” and “all the best words are never enough” he barks ad infinitum.

‘Elvis Festival’ is a tale of hope versus expectation and the spunky spiky Wire-esque riff equipped with some amusing lyrics such as “you sing badly, but no one cares, cause you are Elvis” and the yelp that Langley releases instantly reminds of The Fall’s ‘New Face In Hell’.

Most recent band member Bec Jeavons takes the lead vocal on the power pop of ‘Skin’, a tale of the importance of revealing yourself in a world where our attention spans are continuously challenged to a matter of seconds nowadays.  It has an alt country feel to it and combined with a tinge of C86 it wriggles into the conscious effortlessly.

The campfire is alight on the breezy melancholy of ‘Here is the heart of all wild things’ with a Go Betweens feel to it.  The simple but catchy musical backdrop and Langley’s talk of will and intention contrasted with an ending that sees an abandon bouncing guitar set free is like the proverbial game of two halves.

If the Replacements were 30 years younger they might have penned the stellar closer ‘Poetland’.  A song about contrasts.  “It’s not dignified to always laugh at strangers in a fond way, a way of impressing yourself on their waxy memory, over your brow a ridge of high pressure”.  Langley rambles and leaves you to think deeply in what he says.  Some of his words are ambiguous and it’s the ambiguity that makes his wordsmithery so beguiling and well endowed.

They may have been away for a while, but The Blue Aeroplanes have made an album that many a start-up outfit would be jealous in its creation.  Their hiatus hasn’t crushed their ambition and their own niche sound could be the breakout from the darkside that they’ve constantly craved.

Welcome Stranger! is the game changer that should be embraced by one and all, a truly great slice of poetry and mellifluous indie pop rock.

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