The third album by Southend-on-Sea’s premier band gets off to a flyer with opener Changing The Rain, but that’s merely a hint at what’s to come. One minute thirty seconds into Endless Blue, which begins as a beautiful instrumental piece, the band blast into hyperspace. It’s time to buckle up and enjoy the ride!
Yes it’s derivative – lead single Still Life sees the band raiding the Simple Minds synth cupboard (and is that actually Jim Kerr on vocals? Singer Faris Badwan does a very good impression!) – but what’s wrong with that? Like Blur’s Modern Life Is Rubbish (and like Damon Albarn in 1993, Faris has no time for contemporary music), Skying uses the past as building blocks to create something daring, exhilarating, new.
The highlight for me is the wondrous eight-and-a-half minutes of Moving Further Away, a soaring epic that genuinely made me feel like I was going to take off. Halfway through the song takes you on a serene flight across a shimmering sea, the echo of gulls all around … an absolutely blissful sequence that gradually builds up to a freak out ending.
The only way to follow something so monumental is with something a touch lighter (cf. The Beatles on Abbey Road with Her Majesty following The End; Blur on Parklife with Lot 105 following This Is A Low). And so up next is the Britpop riffing of Monica Gems, which sounds for all the world like a lost Suede classic.
There’s a huge feeling of confidence running through this record. It sounds assured and unhurried, with an abundance of pleasurable touches throughout.
11 July 2011.
Endless Blue, Moving Further Away, Still Life (video below).