added: 4 Sep 2012
// release date: 24 Sep 2012 // label: Demon Music Group
reviewer: David Spencer
In the late eighties and early nineties, it was impossible to escape the sound of Deacon Blue across radio as they turned out hits with ease. But like many successful radio artists, much of their material has not aged terribly well. The likes of Dignity and Chocolate Girl stand aside as classic pop songs, but there is no great desire to hear the likes of Wages Day or Twist And Shout again.
Their first album for 11 years comes after several years of lead man Ricky Ross having a relatively successful solo career, with critical acclaim but no sales. Lacking the excitement of a Stone Roses reunion, this is actually the second time that Deacon Blue have got back together after a break in the nineties. And their reformation is intriguing. Why now and how much has their sound moved on?
The answer to the latter is not greatly, but that is not a great surprise. After all Deacon Blue were never groundbreaking, they just knew how to make a good pop song. And Ross still has it, if the likes of Turn are anything to go by. The delicate ballad is one of the highlights of the album, with a whimsical feel and a great hook. Likewise the tender She’ll Understand, where Ross’s and Lorrain McIntosh’s vocals intertwine delightfully.
Whether intentional or not, titles like The Hipsters and The Outsiders seem pertinent to a band that have never been considered ‘cool’. But as Maroon 5 have proved recently, not being cool is not a problem if your sales enter the millions. While those days are long gone for Deacon Blue, The Hipsters does contain other impressive moments, like the piano pounding of That’s What We Can Do and Laura From Memory.
As for the timing, and the reasons for this album now, it is 25 years since their debut album Raintown was released. While in that time pop music has changed dramatically, there is something re-assuring in the fact that age has not withered Deacon Blue’s pop spark or made them more cynical. It’s more pleasing to have them back than expected.
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