The Blue Aeroplanes


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When punk's implosion offered British musicians a chance to once again draw on earlier eras for inspiration, one of those who took full advantage was Gerard Langley, the frontman of Bristol's free-floating collective Blue Aeroplanes. The sustenance Langley drew from Bob Dylan's nasal monologues (as well as Lou Reed's) is evident on the band's second album, which offers wordy musings on subjects as diverse as Andy Warhol, "Soul," and W.H. Auden's "Journal of an Airman" (recited here to somewhat less than dramatic effect). Luckily, the talented half-dozen bandmembers back him with a tight and coherent sound, full of post-punk's scratchy rhythm guitars and rubber band basslines, as well as the occasional effective embellishment on instruments like French horn and banjo. Using reference points that include prime Gang of Four ("Rare Flowers") and early R.E.M. ("Arrival"), the players take the pressure off Langley's poetry; he even sings on "When the Wave Comes," a pop-leaning treat. Though not as fully realized as later Aeroplanes outings, the ambitious Tolerance isn't overwhelmed by its own artiness, either -- no small feat.

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