The Blue Aeroplanes


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The Aeroplanes keep the arty groove going on their follow-up to Swagger, with little specifically changing about them or their general approach. There is one notable difference, namely the departure of John Langley on drums. Replacement Paul Mulreany does a fine enough job, at points offering up some fairly tight (as opposed to stiff) percussion; the band otherwise chugs along as before. Langley's lyrical sense and delivery still does the business, his elaborate wordplay and rich metaphors avoiding preciousness on the one hand and doggerel on the other. Recording the album mostly in L.A. didn't seem to affect them any either; while producer Larry Hirsch doesn't do much different from what Gil Norton did on Swagger, he keeps everything sounding just fine. A running U.K. music press joke at the time had the group appearing à la superheroes in sticky situations and putting on "spontaneous rock & roll concerts" to save the day. It may seem odd, but the sound of the Aeroplanes on Beatsongs, just loose enough on the one hand and excellently performed on the other, actually fits that description rather well. Songs like "My Hurricane," which manages to sound both quite intense and nicely relaxed at the same time, or the surprising but quite successful cover of Paul Simon's "The Boy in the Bubble" add to the overall quality. "Huh" kicks everything off with understated fire, and with Langley in fine vocal form as always. Many other fine high points are the slow, measured, lovely chiming and pace of "Cardboard Box," and "Jack Leaves/Back Spring" and its lovely, rustic atmosphere. Rodney Allen once again takes a lead vocal turn at points, on his own upbeat music-resigned lyric confection "Fun" and the enjoyable, sprightly semi-R&B of "Streamers," both times doing the business with style.

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