Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Review: Deacon Blue - The Hipsters

 They might call themselves The Hipsters but you don't need to be a hipster to know that Deacon Blue are one of the best bands to come out of Scotland of the past 25 years. With countless singles that have gained them a name for themselves since their platinum selling debut Raintown, they've been a constant inspiration on what it is to be a good pop band. And with a number of recent live shows that have been praised by everyone from The Times' David Sinclair to... my Dad, everyone's falling in love with them all over again.

 And that's not surprising given the amount of time it's been between this latest release and 2001's Homesick there is a high amount of people looking to see Deacon Blue once again. And with this album they certainly deliver in the delivery of lush power pop tunes with strong melodies. And it's one of those rare albums were the simplicity of the songwriting can still deliver engaging results in a pop music context, it's actually quite a rare thing these days.

 It of course makes the charismatic performance of frontman Ricky Ross the standout feature of Deacon Blue's performance throughout the album which on grand opener Here I Am in London Town reveals that in Ross' time away he has matured like a fine wine, with a dustier vocal performance that matches the finesse of the musical backdrop. And that's really quite unexpected because they're from the West End of Glasgow and wouldn't know what wine was. The closest thing would be Buckfast. Man, I'm funny.

 In it's grandeur and crystalline production, the rest of The Hipsters drifts along with an air of grace and warmth, as listeners are immersed within the shrilling backdrops of Stars and britpop reminiscent melodies of The Outsiders, while becoming much more emotionally gripped within the powerful emotion packed into the stirring balladry of She'll Understand awash with the delicate harmonies of Ross and Lorraine McIntosh, one of the few husband wife duos that have actually, well, lasted. And as the album ends on the melancholic tones of This Year's Drug of Choice, you've learnt once more that Deacon Blue hold they key to writing pop songs with class, subtlties and charm.

 So to hand out the kind of critique that everyone gives to bands like Deacon Blue when they release an album in this modern age, it's not an album with a powerful killer single. There's no Dignity or Real Gone Kid on this album. And the fact is, they don't need to have songs like that anymore and if you think there needs to be, you've clearly not absorbed their back catalogue enough. The Hipsters is the sound of a band that have spent the past years struggling to show the world what they're made of and now that they have they're chilling back and playing nicely written pop songs. So indeed, no song on the album is a game changer like previous material has been seen as. But it's a beautiful set of songs on it's own that should surely satisfy even the most stern of listeners. Anyway, if you say band things about Deacon Blue, I'll have to take it as a personal insult against my family. An that's another thing that makes it good listening.

Deacon Blue's The Hipsters is out now via Demon Music Group.

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