Saturday, November 19, 2005

Where is the Line?

Inspired by the previous post, I've decided to lay bare one of my own most Adult Contemporary guilty pleasures-- that of The Blue Nile. Paul Buchanan's songs, still buoyed by washy, late-eighties-era synths, tread dangerously close to the line that separates the Leonard Cohens and Bryan Ferrys from the Stings and Simply Reds of the world. (Incidentally, the Leonard Cohens demolished the Stings, 70-12, and the Bryan Ferrys barely edged out the Simply Reds in overtime, 14-13). It is a blurry, fine line indeed.

I guess you could say The Blue Nile fall into the same UK Post-New Wave Adult Album-Oriented Contemporary Alternative niche that bands like Everything But the Girl or Prefab Sprout fall into. Like those bands, they seem to have taken an appreciation of american soul music and twisted it into a cool, British-ified thing that is not like soul at all, though soulful nonetheless. Buchanan's lyrics evoke both the stark, lonely urban nightscapes of an Edward Hopper painting and the bird's-eye controlled chaos of a midperiod Mondrian; his delivery occasionally stretches out like Sinatra's; his compositions, musically onomotopoeic as they are, occasionally remind me of "Rhapsody in Blue."

Have I pulled this all, fresh and steamy, from my lunar end? Perhaps. But here, I offer bookends, from TBN's first and last records. I'll let you be the judge. Scrumtrillescent!
The Blue Nile - Walk Across the Rooftops
The Blue Nile - Broken Loves


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