The Bluetones – Expecting To Fly (1996): Review

bluetones

Produced by Hugh Jones
Label – Superior Quality Recordings/A&M

Destined to be the next “big thing”, and rival the chart dominance of Britpop rivals Blur and Oasis, The Bluetones debut long player is certainly a statement of intent. Reaching number one in the UK album charts on release, “Expecting To Fly” would contain the quite brilliant number two single “Slight Return”, but the momentum never gathered speed and ultimately the Hounslow four piece failed to capitalize on their initial success, and sadly, by the end of the decade the band were little more than a footnote in the almanac of British indie pop of the 1990s. Formed in 1994 by guitarist Adam Devlin, drummer Ed Chester, vocalist Mark Morriss and bass playing brother Scott, they would emerge in 1995 with two critically acclaimed singles “Are You Blue Or Are You Blind?” and “Bluetonic” on their own Superior Quality Recordings label. The intelligent rock/pop drew many comparisons including The Smiths and The Stone Roses. The uncomfortable link with Britpop probably did them a disservice in the long run, as there were many individual and original sonic components that were undoubtedly missed by many.

bluetones1

The collection is genuinely accomplished, melodic, intrinsically English in approach, and heavily moulded around Devlin’s multi layered guitar and Morriss’ sweet vocal. They weave an understated, yet refreshing mix of sound, ranging from the pure pop rock of “Slight Return” (The album’s highlight) to the wall of sound guitar jam of the opener “Talking To Clarry”. Along with the harder “Cut Some Rug”, “Bluetonic” and “Putting Out Fires”, it’s one of those sets of songs where the melodies become more memorable with extended listens. Although never wholly ground breaking, there’s numerous reasons to question why the band didn’t get the recognition they probably deserved.

“Expecting To Fly” stands as a great introduction to a vastly underrated group.

8/10

Track Listing
1.”Talking to Clarry” – 6:52
2.”Bluetonic” – 4:08
3.”Cut Some Rug” – 4:32
4.”Things Change” – 5:38
5.”The Fountainhead” – 4:35
6.”Carnt Be Trusted” – 3:50
7.”Slight Return” – 3:21
8.”Putting Out Fires” – 6:22
9.”Vampire” – 4:32
10.”A Parting Gesture” – 4:40
11.”Time & Again” – 5:09

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