THE MODESTY BLAISE: SELF TITLED LP

This is very interesting, on track one I feel like I’m listening to Jay Reatard singing over a band formed by Neutral Milk Hotel and The Flaming Lips. It actually has a very 60’s/70’s lounge vibe to it as well and the organ tone definitely helps to push that vibe.  The songs have a bit of Beatles and Beach Boys to them too, overall an eclectic mix of everything that can be considered poppy from the 60’s and 70’s. What is interesting is that instead of power chords and pushing it into a Weezer realm The Modesty Blaise keeps it jangly and true to the era they are trying to emulate. The harmonies and melodies are sweet on every track. Somebody’s parents had a good record collection when they were a child. This entire album sounds timeless like it could have been written at any point in the last 50 years. This is a good example of a vocalist who I wouldn’t call traditionally amazing but the charisma on each song is overflowing. The singer shows his charm especially on tracks like “Girls Just Wanna Dance” and the band perfectly supports the vocals with a call and response, hand claps and sugary sweet “ooohs”. 

The band existed in some iteration 20 years ago and this is their return effort and it’s a strong one. The band originally formed in the early 90’s and it’s clear to see that level of musicianship is behind the writing of this music. It’s like a package of everything that is great about late 60’s pop from Motown to psychedelic pop like Pink Floyd and everything in between. Every once in a while the band dips into the disco 70’s and honestly I could do without those couple tracks as they feel like they mess up a complete masterpiece of an album. It took me until the track “Out Tonight” to realize The Kinks and Herman’s Hermits are a more appropriate comparison to this band but with modern production.  They’ve made a fan and I’m surprised I haven’t heard of them prior to listening for this review. Overall this is a band that deserves some attention. There’s no way you can listen and not find something you latch onto from the bossa nova beat of “Pink Champagne on Mars” to the highlight for me “Girls Just Wanna Dance” and it’s perfect 60’s homage. This band is doing for 60’s pop what The Hives did for 60’s garage rock, great stuff.

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- Sam Lowry

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