Cinema Red and Blue

Cinema Red and Blue

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By late 2009 Comet Gain had been a band for over fifteen years, so it made perfect sense for the group’s leader David Christian to head off in search of a new format for his songs. Setting off for Brooklyn (with keyboardist Anne Laure Guillain in tow), he met up with members of the Ladybug Transistor and Crystal Stilts (and original CG drummer Phil Sutton) to make a record under the name Cinema Red and Blue. Not surprisingly perhaps, given Christian’s strong vision and inimitable style, the record sounds mostly like a Comet Gain record and has none of the echo-y psychedelics or rich arrangements you might think members of Crystal Stilts and Ladybug Transistor would provide respectively. Apart from a few covers on side two, Christian wrote the bulk of the songs and they sound like Comet Gain songs, rife with seething emotions, finely detailed observations, punk rock myths and pop dreams. Alternating between raw emotion rockers and wracked ballads, the record has all the power and fire Christian always brings to a performance. The main difference between this and a Comet Gain record is Gary Olson's relatively nuanced and cinematic production. He smooths out most of the rough edges and gives the band a depth of sound you don’t usually hear backing Christian’s voice. They play sympathetically throughout, never distracting from the voice and lyrics, and, apart from the occasional guitar break (like on "Ballad of a Vision Pure") or jangling 12-string, never letting on that they aren’t a slicker, more musically sure-footed version of Comet Gain. Also, they sound like they’ve been playing for years and not just thrown together for a week in the studio. While the original tunes are first rate Christian, the covers are equally good. Choosing a tender Dead Moon ballad ("Love in the Altitude") or the happily bouncing Vic Goddard song ("Same Mistakes") is impressive enough from a record geek perspective, that the band makes them sound as exciting and sweet is the icing on the cake. What they do with the (Wreckless) Eric Goulden song “You’re Gonna Screw My Head Off” is worth the cost of the record alone, making it sound like the great lost anthem of the '80s. As with any “supergroup” side project, this album could have been an indulgent mess. Instead it’s a record that stands with the best work of David Christian and Comet Gain, which makes it very vital to anyone who’s stuck with the band and the man this far.

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