The Blue Aeroplanes

Rough Music

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The continuing personnel saga of the Aeroplanes got even more tangled with Rough Music -- this time the departing member was guitarist Angelo Bruschini, Gerard Langley's most consistent collaborator over the years, replaced by not-bad-at-all Joe Wygens. At the same time Alex Lee returned for this album, bringing three fellow members of Strangelove with him: lead singer Patrick Duff, bassist Joe Allen, and none other than Langley's brother John -- the Aeroplanes' original, long-departed drummer. Despite or because of all the confusion, Langley brought together the usual strong supporting cast, numbering almost 25 performers this time around, and created another fine Aeroplanes album. Those loving the previous '90s releases won't find much different here per se, but the varied touches which Langley and company like to bring to the fore are present and then some. It can be Lee's feedback buried in the mix on "Sugared Almond," or the whistling on "Whatever Happened to Our Golden Birds?," but the band just seem incapable of creating a truly off track. Langley's non-singing delivery is just as grand as ever, and while he seems to be a little more friendly with choruses this time out, most of the time it's still complex poetry read with a refreshing lack of self-importance -- always one of his best points. He throws in a nice reading of W. H. Auden's "Dear, Though the Night Is Gone" at the end as well. The mix of relaxed, easy-going vibes and electric rush otherwise generally carries the album, with strong examples of both tendencies easily evident. "Scared" shows the band in intense, quick mode, Lee's strong lead guitar and regular drummer, Mulreany's brisk pounding supporting an emotionally paranoid Langley lyric. Allen's regular lead vocal turns, as always, are mighty fine. "Worry Beads" is a brisk jangler with a snarling Lee solo, Allen's light singing suiting things well, while "Wond'ring Wild" is just a touch calmer but has a similar overall vibe.

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