Edwyn Collins - Badbea - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Edwyn Collins - Badbea

by Kevin Orton Rating:9 Release Date:2019-03-29
Edwyn Collins - Badbea
Edwyn Collins - Badbea

As a long-time Orange Juice fan, a new Edwyn Collins album is cause for celebration. His latest, Badbea is no exception. “Its all about you,” he sings on the opener to a driving sax, that manages for once not to sound cheesy. A feat in itself. The jaunty but slightly foreboding, ‘In The Morning’ follows, going to show that time and illness has not dulled Collins’ wit or knack for ear-catching Pop. In many places, this is an Elvis Costello Punch The Clock style big horns album, without apology.

‘I Guess We Were Young’ is a ballad with flamenco flourishes that meditates on the uselessness of regret in changing the past with the caveat that it can serve as a guide for avoiding future mistakes. A point of view that only comes with age and yet, Collins’ baritone and penchant for unforgiving irony seems as keen as it was in his salad days.

You can hear the birds whistling in the soul-bearing, spare ballad, ‘It All Makes Sense To Me.’ A ruminative stroll by the shore that is quickly contrasted by the pounding drums and driving Punk guitars of ‘Outside’. “Now that I’m old, I don’t care,” Collins growls in vocals that sound remarkably like Iggy Pop. Call it “fuck it” Punk rather than “fuck you”.

The vivacious ‘Glasgow To London’ is a blast of Rip It Up era Orange Juice, with lyrics that are hell-bent on looking forward, not back. ‘Tensions Rising’ is just that. A northern soul stomper which starts with a bang and ends with a guttural cry of saxes and Collins’ increasingly incensed vocals. Elsewhere, ‘Beauty’ has all the lonesome, breathtaking views of the abandoned, cliffside coastal village the album takes its title from. What emerges is a record that is content to accept aging gracefully with no intentions of going gentle into that good night. To contrast, ‘I Want You’ is an unexpectedly lusty bit of sleaze, giving Madrugada a run for their money. One of the darkest numbers on the album, alluding to “The price you pay to make your way’.

‘I’m OK Jack’, is a bouncy bit of Pop which is pretty self-explanatory while the snarling ‘Sparks The Spark’, reveals true discontent with the state of the world order. As we age, we’d all like to think we’re leaving the world a better place but as Collins points out, that isn’t quite the case.  

The closing track is a mournful reflection on that aforementioned abandoned Scottish village, “a ruined monument to life”. “I still see the ghosts of Badbea move among them on the cliff tops, broken stones that testify, memories that never die.” It all serves as a metaphor for times lost to the past and an acceptance of a future that is equally transient.

Badbea isn’t the kind of album that’s going to change or set the world on fire, but if our favorite singer-songwriters must age, here’s to them sounding as vital and rewarding as Edwyn Collins does here.  

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