The Blue Aeroplanes – Welcome Stranger

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Damian Liptrot | Stars: 4/5

The Blue Aeroplanes are a curious beast.  A kind of Heinz 57 dog of a band. Whatever type of canine you like there is a bit of that in there somewhere and what emerges is something highly individual and much greater than the sum of the parts.  Not that the band don’t have an impressive pedigree, stretching back over 30 years and name checked as influences by the likes of REM and Radiohead.  Their first album in approaching 10 years manages to be a favourite movie kind of a disc.  There is much to be enjoyed but subsequent listens yield new pleasures on each occasion.  There is an overriding feel that on the face of it makes little sense, combining the muscularity of Primal Scream in their pomp with the whimsy and charm of the likes of Robyn Hitchcock and Jonathan Richman.  Chief pilot Gerard Langley delivers lyrics that combine a sense of the profound with the suspicion that they may mean something completely different, in a semi-sung semi-spoken mould that marries the unlikely couple of John Otway and Mark E Smith.  In addition to the above you can find traces of just about anyone you have ever enjoyed from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Johnny Thunders and Elvis himself is name checked if not exactly referenced and this is followed a couple of songs later by perhaps the most traditionally structured song on the album where Langley gives way to the female vocals of Bec Jevons in a tune harking back to the likes of Elastica and other classic early 90s female lead combos.  In turn this is followed by the quieter more reflective side of the band which becomes more apparent in “Here is the Heart of all Wild Things” a song that would not disgrace Captain Beefheart’s twisted pop classic Bluejeans and Moonbeams.  On this form let us hope that the Aeroplanes do not leave it the best part of another decade before giving us a new set but in the meantime, for those coming new to the Bristol outfit, there is an extensive back catalogue to be investigated and enjoyed.