Baxter Dury

Floor Show

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Well, yes, he's Ian's son, and yes, he was the little moppet standing next to his dad on the cover of New Boots and Panties!!, and for that matter, yes, his songwriting partner Ben Gallagher is the son of Blockheads mainstay Mickey Gallagher. But Baxter Dury is no Frank Sinatra, Jr., nor even a Julian Lennon: sometimes a vocal inflection sounds a bit familiar, but in every important way, Baxter Dury is his own man, a gifted singer and songwriter working in an entirely different musical style from his old man's good-humored blend of pub rock, music hall, and funk. Baxter Dury favors a more modern strain of indie Britpop, with hints of mid-'90s mainstays like the Verve and Suede. The backbone of his band throughout Floor Show is guitarist Mike Mooney and drummer Damon Reece, whose previous work with space rock luminaries like Julian Cope and Spiritualized gives the album an agreeably psychedelic flair in touches like the drones underpinning the urgent opening track and first single "Francesca's Party" and the hazy, druggy vibe of the desperate piano ballad "Young Gods." Lyrically, Floor Show's big subject appears to be the post-Cool Brittania hangover, with drugs, malaise, and romantic loss reappearing from song to song. According to interviews given around the time of the album's release, Dury had split with his girlfriend and the mother of his young son shortly before the project began, and certainly songs like "Waiting for Surprises" feel shot through with post-breakup shellshock. Fairly relentless in its darkness (even the cover art maintains the vibe of sleaze and depression), Floor Show gets by on the plainspoken honesty and dry wit of its lyrics, Dury's appealingly deadpan vocal delivery and the unexpected heft of both the songs and their arrangements. It may not be an easy listen, but Floor Show is a fulfilling one.

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