The Blue Nile


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If you've read anything else about the Blue Nile, you already know it takes them eight to ten years between albums, they're elegant sad sacks, and they're critically adored for the most part. Their last album, 1996's Peace at Last, was their first stumble, with main man Paul Buchanan yammering wistfully about family and domestication instead of giving listeners the skeletal poems and studio magic of their first two albums. If you weren't staring at your newborn, Peace at Last could grow tiresome, but the Blue Nile have returned with a more balanced album and Buchanan is broken-hearted again, thank the stars. He's been struggling with fatigue and illness and as selfish and inconsiderate as it sounds, it's brought the spark back to his writing. Mood over narrative has always worked to the Blue Nile's benefit and that's what the excellent "Broken Loves" is all about, giving the listener a better chance to relate than Peace at Last's postcard from home. "I Would Never" is the sweet single, but album tracks like "Because of Toledo" and "She Saw the World" are where the album gets meaty and intricately structured, recalling the glory days. Getting more obscure and atmospheric toward the end, High follows the arc of their classic, Walk Across the Rooftops, and given the time to sink in, the album fits well in their canon. The closing "Stay Close" is one of those "raw emotion over urbanite aesthetic" tracks that fans crave. It makes the eyes well up, and like the better part of High, justifies the next eight- to ten-year wait.

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