Sound: The second album from good time rockers The Blue Van provides you with another 12 songs to take to the beach, play football to or share drinks with friends. Their blend of 60's rock and Mick Jagger inspired swagger rarely fails to cheer people up. The production is extremely tight on this album. The guitars are crisp and snappy, while the drums sound like small fireworks. Unlike a lot of albums today, the music sounds alive. What struck me was the clear personalities of each of the songs:
01. The Odyssey - the album starts with booming drums and a sleazy bass line, just before the guitar and piano blow the doors down. The vocalist's voice shares the same swagger as Mick Jagger's.
Don't Leave Me Blue - a more mellow offering about finding true love. While the music is strong, I found the lyrics a tad predictable.
03. Independence - a song about questioning your own ways after being ripped apart. It feels like a darker song, with the singer letting a small amount of angst contrast with the upbeat melodies.
04. The Poet Tree - my favourite track. I still do not know what the song is trying to say. Regardless of this, the calmer strumming of the guitars and supportive organ helps it flow.
05. Goldmind - it feels like a call to arms.
06. Momentarily Sane - the most relaxed song on the album. The laid back tone of the singer and the acoustic guitar makes it suited to lazy afternoons spent lying beneath a tree.
07. The Scent Of Season - despite the great intro by the drums and the bass, I found the singers constant crooning slightly irritating.
08. The Time Is Right - possibly the only song that could be considered filler. Nothing stood out as being overly brilliant on this track.
09. Keep Me Running - the feedback heavy intro bleeds into a beautifully soulful verse and groove-laden chorus.
10. The Elephant Man - a clever nod to AC/DC. The singer belts the lyrics with rock star attitude, and the song oozes energy.
11. Rico - a fast paced live favourite.
12. White Dominos - the album's ballard about a parents pushy ways. The lyrics are very soulful, and the organ carries the melody.
However, if you are a fan of the current vocal styles present in bands such as Arctic Monkeys, The Kooks and The Enemy this may not be for you. The same goes for fans of the more shouty, growl-ridden metal bands. This doesn't mean the music lacks punch or aggression, but it is neither as clichd as a lot of 'indie' bands or as manly as many metal groups. // 8
Lyrics: The Lyrics cover a wide range of subjects, from parents pride to loss of love to the joys of the sun. The lyrics suit the music perfectly, in the sense that even the darkest lyrics sound very uplifting when supported by the rest of the band. Apart from one or two examples, I think the song writing is strong. Steffen Westmark is a very recognizable singer. This album showcases his talents as both a crowd rousing rock singer and a smooth, seductive soul crooner. He is just as good out of the studio as he is in. // 10
Overall Impression: I have not heard their first album, so I cannot make an educated opinion. However, if the current tide of 'indie' bands do nothing for you but you still want something a little different, this band is definitely worth a look. It is this individuality that I love about this record. I haven't heard anything like it before, it brings many of the positive musical aspects of the '60s into the new millennium without sounding old. That said, towards the end you may find yourself wishing they would try something a little different. Songs of note are definitely Independence, Elephant Man and Rico. These stand out from the other, still great, tracks because of their addictive energy. If it was stolen, I would buy it again without a doubt, purely to support the band even though I have it burnt onto the computer. // 8