How derivative can you get in the year 2011? Quite derivative, of course, but it’s not as if there’s any limit to it. After all these years of revivals and re-revivals, there’s seemingly nothing that could stop them unambitious artists from doing it over and over again. Or, for that matter, make us protest in incredulous indignation: hey, wait a second, this is too fucking much. The question is: now that we are well acquainted with the second-hand pleasures of Franz Ferdinand and The Cribs, are we ready to take on The Blood Arm too? Having listened to this album three or four times now, I would have to answer in the affirmative. Reluctantly but with no reservations. Because derivative or not – the songs contained on Turn And Face Me are simply too good to be ignored.
This is The Blood Arm’s third release, and their ruthless, tuneful Beatles-meets-Orange Juice onslaught continues. Also, Turn And Face Me happens to sound as similar to You Could Have It So Much Better as it is physically possible without actually being that album. The melodies may be different, the hooks may be new – but there’s no getting away from those spirited and joyful Kapranos-like vocals or the sheer driving optimism of these tunes.
There’s no stylistic variation here, mostly pretty and achingly melodic ballads (the album’s two last songs) or rousing, pulsating rockers big on smart lyrical lines and irresistible choruses (‘All My Love Songs’, ‘Friends For Now’, everything else). In fact, the only time they allow themselves some slight deviation is with the disco beat of the synths-led ‘Relentless Love’ – a track that wouldn’t have been out of place on Franz Ferdinand’s latest. Otherwise – there’s lots of piano, rip-roaring glam-rock and lovely acoustic guitar. What’s not to like? It all sure sounds better than The Cribs.
Since listening to Turn And Face Me is so engaging that it doesn’t give you a chance to feel bored or get distracted from this never-ending energy rush for a second, the sour feeling that gets to your head afterwards – something akin to a spiritual hangover – becomes all the more hard to bear (so much so that I had to dock the rating a bit). Because, turn and face it, you could have it so much better.
Released on 4th July 2011 by Pau!