27 January 2012

Azure Blue - rule of thirds (2011, Matinée / Hybrism)

Vitesse, the early Magnetic Fields recordings, and all things related to 80's tinted synth (twee / indie) pop, once popularized by New Order, all names that come to mind when Azure Blue, alias Tobias Isaksson explores his own emotions through a well defined setup, but at times partially succeeds in breaking the lines with sentimental melancholic and ecstatic melodies. 

Such obsessions remind me at times of another Swedish songwriter, Karl Larsson, aka Last Days of April, or of Sambassadeur,  though the final style is quite different.
Next the soft folk country pop of Laurel Music and the uptempo retro indie pop of Irene, Azure Blue is a total reversal of Tobias Isaksson towards something more intimate and sensitive; still highly melodic but in a more personal and fragile way, exploring romantic disappointments and deceived, now bitter hopes. 

Starting with a cover of "Fingers", a song written by Grand McLennan on his album "Fireboy" is a true and powerful declaration of intent. It is one of the most devastating and heart on sleeve love song of the decesased Go-Betweens songwriter. Not easy to cover with the emotional charge of the original, but his own translation, quieter, more fluid and for rainy days is surprisingly efficient.

And you already know that the purpose will be intimate and warm behind these cold and humid synthpop melodies. “Catcher in the Rye” starts a playful exploration, now on his own ground. "Seasons" confirms the standard, with this twee innocence you find too on most Brighter songs. 

Of course there is often a high sugar degree behind those Factory Records pop accents, like with "Little Confusions" but it feels good listening to it while moving to the city, by car or on bike,  enjoying such welcome euphoria.

"Long Way Down"is less convincing, but as follows directly the more immediate and catchiest song of the album, "Dreamy Eyes", I can't really complain too much. But the next two tracks, "The Shore" and "Two hearts" are minor too before an end saved by a more palatable "Chesil Beach".

"Rule of thirds" doesn't fulfill all expected promises, a few great song but not enough to constitute a totally remarkable album.


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