Martin Carr - New Shapes of Life

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:8 Release Date:2017-10-27
Martin Carr - New Shapes of Life
Martin Carr - New Shapes of Life

Martin Carr used to be one of the driving forces behind The Boo Radleys, one of the key bands that were tagged in the shoegaze category, along with My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive. Who did what for the shoegaze genre is somewhat irrelevant to this story, it's worthwhile to note that, The Boo Radleys evolved from the pigeonhole in which they were placed. 

Carr was certainly one of the key motivators in the evolution of The Boo Radleys into a more diversified band, including more or less everything into their sound, from The Beatles to John Coltrane. His three or four albums under the Brave Captain moniker showed his further diversification with the inclusion of more electronics into his sound, something that seemed to spill over into his first two proper solo albums (2009 and 2014), except that the latter, The Breaks was a return to a more simple rock setup.

After yet another break of a few years, Carr is back with New Shapes of Life, and like the Boo Radleys style-changing Giant Steps album from 1993, with its John Coltrane inspired title, New Shapes of Life is exactly the title Carr wanted to signify what he was attempting with this album. Shaken by David Bowie’s death, Carr concentrated on the life and works of that giant figure of rock for a while, and scrapped everything he was attempting to write, and started working on the album from scratch. It turns out to be an extremely introspective album, but without resorting to anything downtrodden or overtly melancholic.

The opening chirpy rhythms and drum machines of the title song actually serve as a vehicle to see your state, shape, and goals, "Of muted desire/And no fit state I know my place/Behind the glass (“New Shapes of Life”). The whole thing seemed to have a profound effect on Carr, who became depressive and had to go on medication.

But New Shapes of Life seems to have served as a way to recovery for the man since it is a source of very dense, diversified music that covers almost everything he has done so far musically; Bowie, the latter-day Boo Radleys, soul, and all the ‘modern’ sounds of today. The lyrical density of the album does not make it such an easy listen at first, but repeated listenings of this material reveals rich rewards for all who persist. Songs like “Future Reflections” and “A Mess of Everything,” as well as all others, present great musical images and lyrical insights into Carr inner thoughts and feelings.

Somewhat heavy, but a truly rewarding listen at the same time that shows its true qualities with every repeated listen.

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