Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Review: British Road Movies by Kate Jackson

Kate Jackson (erstwhile lead singer of The Long Blondes) released her debut solo LP last month, and there was much rejoicing. British Road Movies is a loose concept album that checks in with numerous different characters as they hurtle along roads and around roundabouts en route to their respective destinations. Jackson finds a curious sort of romance in the beiges and greys of Britain's roadways - the gorgeous artwork, featuring Jackson's own portrait of a motorway flyover, is an excellent example of this - and like all the best long car journeys, the scenery remains diverse and varied throughout.

For example, Wonder Feeling is a chirrupy pop song about bunking off work and seeing where the open road takes you, whereas 16 Years is a Pulpy spoken word number with a guitar riff so superbly sleazy-sounding that you feel dirty just listening to it. The piano-led Last of the Dreamers is all pomp and faded glamour, whereas opening track The End of Reason simply stuffs you in the boot and drives, its motorik beat charging ahead as Jackson informs that she and her band are "taking your life away".

An exhilarating listen, though I'm still not sure what to make of that weird, breathy skittering sound.

Not every track on British Road Movies thrills me, but the album's ever-changing sound makes it difficult to ever feel truly bored. And besides, I'm certain that the songs I'm not so fond of (Metropolis, which stomps around a lot without really going anywhere, and The Atlantic, which sounds a little strained and goes on for too long) are probably somebody else's favourites.

And that's the great thing about British Road Movies: there's something for everyone, and whether you're looking for melodramatic string flourishes (album standout Lie to Me), summery come-outside fun (the aforementioned Wonder Feeling) or just some brash, confident rock music that reminds you how much you liked Suede's first album (Homeward Bound - did I mention that Bernard Butler was involved in the making of British Road Movies?), you'll find it here along with all sorts of other fabulous sounds. Unlike the motorways that serve as its backdrop, BRM is one album that never gets monotonous.

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