I used to write music reviews for a Canadian website, twowaymonologues, but its archive has disappeared. Thus I’m going to archive some of my own reviews from there under the heading “Vintage Review”, so they won’t be lost forever. Hope you enjoy these. I’ll put them up now and again, whenever the mood takes me.
The Tears – Refugees EP
Originally reviewed: 25th May 2005.
The Tears (rhymes with ‘dear’, not ‘dare’) recently released their first single. Two versions were released, one could buy one or the other, or both packed together as the Refugees EP. So, who are the Tears? It seems they’re “life’s refugees / Like Bonnie and Clyde we’re free / Don’t say there’s nothing between us”. There’s probably no better description for Bernard Butler and Brett Anderson’s new band. Depending on your knowledge of early 90s Britpop, these names may or may not look familiar to you. In 1994, Bernard Butler walked out of Suede, just before the release of their second album, Dog Man Star. That left Anderson running the show on his own, while Butler went off to carve out a career with McAlmont & Butler. In recent press releases, both say they knew that they’d eventually get back together. Most fans never thought it would happen. But now that it has, The Tears debut album Here Come The Tears has become one of the most anticipated British albums of 2005 (almost up there with Coldplay). Thus why I’m reviewing a five track EP…
In the early days, Butler had wanted Suede to be a ‘Smiths for the 90s’. However, this ideal was becoming further and further from the truth, causing him to leave the band. Now that he’s older and wiser, he has a new agenda: “I wanted to make an album that was angrier and more questioning than what I might have done before,” Butler says. “There are lots of elements of 21st century life that really put me off, and I find distasteful. ‘Rufugees’ is about the media creation of a new would-be underclass, people who exist through the bottom of society, selling cigarettes on the corner. While underneath we all have the same hopes, needs, fears and sense of family.”
So what does it actually sound like? Well, David Bowie actually. Who’d have thought it? One of Britain’s biggest bands of the 90s reuniting in the 00s, but sounding like the 70s. (Actually you can quote me on that, Bernard and Brett – I won’t even demand royalties.) The title track is a great little pop song, and really recaptures the lost days of Suede. With a really catchy bouncy chorus, and an understated melody, this song is the essence of feel-good pop, even if it is a critique of society underneath. If the rest of the album is this good, it really WILL give Coldplay a run for their money.
Second song “Southern Rain” is where the Bowie-influence kicks in. The vocals sound like Bowie, the piano sounds like Bowie. It could have been on Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and wouldn’t have seemed out of place. Like its name, the song is quite dreary, but luckily not depressing. It’s a slow piano-led track, a direct contrast to what goes before and after, but doesn’t seem at all out of place. “Feels Like Monday” is more knock back to Suede. Like everything being released these days it has its Robert Smith moments; but for anyone that has listened to Suede, they’ll know that Butler and Anderson were trendsetters years before the trend.
The penultimate song, “Branded” is very similar to “Southern Rain”, but different enough to be interesting. Bernard is once again at work leading the song on piano. It has a really sparse sound, and has some beautiful Bowie lyrics. The last track, “Break Away” again follows the same route. It starts with “And this world is just atoms / spinning slowly / Other people are shadows, lost and lonely / But they’re giving us rules to follow / And they’re giving us lies to swallow.” It’s probably the angriest of the five songs, and also the best of them.
This is an excellent EP, much like Bloc Party’s one last year in anticipation of their debut album. However there’s one major problem with it – only the title track is on the new album, Here Come The Tears. So if that’s the case, the songs on the album must be better than all of these. If they are, Chris Martin watch your back.
Download these tracks:
All of them, and get the new single ‘Lovers’ which is released soon.
8.0 – An excellent EP, but it’s a bit too much like David Bowie to get a higher mark. But that said, if you like Bowie, you’ll love this! Luckily there’s only two weeks to wait until Here Come The Tears is released!