Album: Memory Man
Single: Pressure Suit
Both released 28th August 2007 on Columbia
I need to write 2 reviews for these discs:
1] for existing fans of Aqualung….
You can buy these records without fear of disappointment – all the material contained on them is right up your street. They will delight you. Don’t bother reading what follows – it will not affect the pleasure you derive from listening to your Aqualung records – in fact it will only serve to confuse as it is written in a language you will probably not understand.
2] for prospective fans of Aqualung i.e. the rest of the World….
If Aqualung [Matt Hales & company] is merely trying to please its fan-base, this album will do the job nicely, but if the group is attempting to widen its appeal to the general public, then I think it’s probably barking up the wrong tree.
I was dubious about the record’s merits even before I put it on as I’ve worked hard at trying to see what they’re all about on previous occasions. In order that I’d have to give it a fair hearing, I played it while I was in the bath so to escape the ordeal, I’d have to vacate my second favourite refuge, stagger dripping across to the player and risk electrocution, which was a great disincentive.
Now, I need to explain why I find their music so difficult to grasp. It’s certainly not the music – that’s fine. They are competent instrumentalists – but only in a pretty average and unadventurous way. The tunes are vacuous giving one the impression they are a mere setting for lyrics which will really have something important to say to us all. They don’t. The songs are trite to the extreme. The verse is almost mumbled so picking up the words and their meaning is hard work. They overcompensate by raising the pace and volume on the refrain to underline its significance – but one is still left wondering what it’s all about. I think the overriding impression one’s left with is that Aqualung is full of hot stifling air – in other words they are pretentious.
The new single ‘Pressure Suit’ unfortunately typifies these failings. It’s formulaic Coldplay generation mush. So, once again, if that’s your bag – you’ll be happy it.
There are a couple of tracks which do actually step beyond the usual recipe ingredients if only slightly. Tracks 5 & 6 ‘Vapour Trail’ and ‘Rolls So Deep,’ while maintaining the basically same dirge-like qualities of the rest do show promise of breaking out into a more interesting sound-world. But by this time its probably too late to pull the vulnerable listener back from the edge of the cliff they have drifted towards. Track 7, ‘The Lake’ also exhibits some interesting changes of direction but in this case they take one even deeper into that pit of despair.
So, to sum up, I think you’ll either love or hate this record. I believe the foregoing diatribe makes my position clear.