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The last holy writer

We spoke with Love Dane about the Sarah spirit a while ago, but that was without taking its soul into account. Bobby Wratten is back and we have an appointment with perfection.

I can’t really be objective about this. Which partly explains why I’ve avoided writing this review, but then doing nothing only results in nothing so I’ll just have to not be objective.

How can we talk about a record that reunites at its heart two of the masters, of the gods if we wanted to be a bit mystical, to whom we would build an altar of pop music in a chapel of melancholy.

What else would you expect from a group like TBS,  with Bobby Wratten at its head, who for me is nothing less than the composer of the most beautiful pop song ever written (“Sensitive”) with the unforgettable Field Mice, accompanied by his faithful disciple Ian Catt in production, who also comes from Sarah as the producer of the aforementioned Field Mice? Damn, we’d be happy even with slightly less. We spoke a short time ago about how the spirit of Sarah lives on in Love Dance, well the original actors are still I here and they still have something to say.

You’ll never see TBS on stage. They’ve never been at ease there and anyway, that’s not a problem as it leaves more time for Bobby to refine his ballads to a perfection unequalled on record.

For those who have never heard of this group, and this is there sixth lp in twelve years, here’s a little reminder. Bobby was the co-leader in the 90’s of the Field Mice on the glorious Sarah label, the meeting place according to many rock historians for the Smiths and the Factory Records universe, an incredible mix of pop pearls based around rigor and minimalism as much as the electro style that can be heard in places. After an announced and inevitable band split (and with the label too) and an unhappy experience with NPL, Bobby accompanied by his future ex Annemari Davies, who was herself the muse for the FM at the end of their career, reinvented himself as Trembling Blue Lights (sic) and presented his relation with her from the beginning to what seemed to him to be an inevitable end in a surgical (ie detailed / painful) fashion on the extraordinary first lp Her handwriting in 1996. Since then the line up has changed, the themes too but the style has remained. No revolution then since the moving twee-pop of the Field Mice. The flame is still burning.

As a witness to this comes this beautiful new lp, which opens slowly with a cathartic By False Lights, before rebounding immediately with Idyllwild which jumps with excitement, carried by the magnificent voice of Beth Arzy which could make a retired North Korean dictator cry. The we think of The Cure who if they heard Sacred Music would regret that they don’t write songs like that anymore. From This once was an island, we open up the way again to New Order with sympathetic electronic percussion and melodic bass lines like Peter Hook’s, a trademark of Bobby’s since the Field Mice. Certain titles confirm the beautiful melancholic energy (Darker, colder, slower) and the crystal guitars remind us at times of the Cocteau Twins who are in the same field (as TBS in other words) at times of the liquid walls of Slowdive. As a whole there’s lots of variety, and never, never, boring, not even for a second.

We are surprised to find the perfect pop song (another one !) with November Starlings where Beth’s vocals again make us melt … and when we least expect it she sings again to break our hearts (From a pale blue rosary), the original spirit of the Field Mice reappears for the time of The Tenth of always which is poignant. To be brief, we could say that we find nothing new in the songs on this record, but everything (voice, instruments, arrangements, production) is pushed to such a high degree of excellence and perfection that we’re left open mouthed in front of the finished work. Bobby Wratten has once agained released a classic. That makes 6 in 12 years, without any lack of taste whatsoever, as was the case with his former bands. What else can I say, the man’s a genius.

Trembling Blue Stars [IndieRock Magazine]
foto: Archivo Elefant










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