Brett’s solo career has been interesting and at times surprising – whilst his first album felt like a fairly natural step I’m not sure anyone could have predicted that the man responsible for *that* arse spanking Brits performance would ever release something like Wheatfields.. and yet somehow it has all made sense as a journey too. While I enjoyed Slow attack and Wilderness for what they were I can’t pretend I’m not glad to have him return to a more ‘rock’ sound.
One clear benefit of the route he has taken is that experimenting with different, more low key, sounds gave his lyric writing a welcome shot in the arm.
Whilst Black Rainbows is definitely on the rock side of pop it’s not an adolescent record – though using words like ‘mature’ are the death kiss in any review – it is mature, but I mean that in the best possible way. It is introspective and slightly bitter in the way that only someone who has lived can be. Musically too it most calls to mind the crossover point between 80s MOR and alt rock / New Wave like Echo and the Bunnymen, The Cure and Simple Minds.
For some suede fans this will be on the surface not what they want to hear from Brett but personally I think it’s a surprisingly (and enjoyably) dark turn that suits him down to the ground.
Track by Track
I LOVE this song! Easily as good as a many classic suede ballads. It gets seriously big and swoopy.
The poppiest song on the album, it’s very catchy and pleasant to listen to but at times sails close to not having enough bite. It’s rescued for me by the verse melodies which are lovely and swooning.
I like the jangly 80’s Indie sound and there are some great lyrics in the one but I feel the chorus could be stronger.
My favourite song on the album. Love the lyrics, love the way his voice sounds, love the instrumentation. Just love it.
I really like this track. It has a nice driving rhythm, lots of staccato drum stuff and angry lyrics. Pleasantly dark and brooding.
A gorgeous swooning and melancholic track. Not quite a ballad in the conventional sense but it has the heart of one.
The opening riff reminds me of Blondie but the song itself is the kind of snappy, grumpy, guitar-pop that The Tears should have been. Vicious but fun at the same time.
This has a very 80s Bunnymen / Cure feel about it. A solid song with a pleasantly dark underbelly and some almost obsfucated swearing 😉
Swagger, swagger, swagger. I think it will be a *beast* live.
Pleasant but not the strongest of Brett’s ballads and I would have preferred to see this dropped in place of one of the bonus tracks if I’m honest.
Bonus Itunes Track: Unstoppable
In true Christina Aguilera fashion I think I am going to end up liking this track more than anything that’s actually on the album proper! The chorus is an absolutely cracking hook and I love the pulsing, relentlessness.. well unstoppableness of it.
If you want balls-out rock then this won’t be the album for you however I would stop short of calling it a ballad or down-tempo album. It’s certainly not Slow Attack. I can’t help thinking that ‘Brittle Heart’ is actually quite a good description of the album itself. Brett is a chronic (dare I say it Byronic?) romantic at heart, but it’s a romanticism that is tempered by a snappy cynicism and world-weary anger. These kind of rockish torch songs suit him and his voice very well I think.
Anyone going into this expecting the epicness or bravery of Dog Man Star will be sorely disappointed and *yet* there is something about the swooping, bitter mood of this album that has a more direct lineage from that record than maybe anything else he has done since..