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ReviewsSuburban Rock 'n' Roll - 2004 - LosingToday Ah….Space, the band from Liverpool who in the mid 90’s sounded like nothing else from Liverpool past or present, or for that matter like anything from anywhere else. Too clever for indie and to weird for pop, like Ooberman, Space occupy their own self-assembled bubble. While Britpop took the Beatles, Kinks and the ‘Italian Job’ to its collective bosom as the cool reference points for their immediately digestible colourful pop blueprint, Space worked the epic with the dark and the wayward with the grand, there were no identifiable reference points to be found, Space worked from a blank canvas.
Now back after a long weekend following the World Cup finals, 1998 that is, (how those years fly) and slimmed to a quartet following the departure of Jamie Murphy, Space return with ‘Suburban Rock ‘n’ Roll’ having recently signed to RandM records. It must be a strange thing returning after all these years to find the current crop of Scouse bands (the Zutons, Coral, the Stands, Hokum Clones to name but a few) under the eye of critical acclaim and leading a resurgence of interest in Liverpool once again, that said Space still sound so far removed from any clichéd sound or movement that they might as well for all intent and purposes be from a different planet. Those thinking the passing years might have tamed the band then think again, because curiously enough ‘Suburban’ sounds like a more rounded species of ‘Spiders’ only better, still diverse combining elements of soundtracks both dark and exotic, ska, punk pop and noire-ish backdrops; still wayward; still charged with moments of breathless grandeur (‘Quiet Beach’) and the more shadowy elements of Bond-esque codas being reconstructed as though by Morricone gone wild (‘Twenty million miles from you’).
‘Suburban rock ‘n’ roll’ is an intimately drawn statement an almost autobiographical account of the last five years from Tommy Scott’s perspective, when it’s not zeroing in with soaring glee it serves to thicken the mix with sultry sophistication. The perfectly nailed furious roller coasting ‘Zombies’ itself gives a glimpse of what Duran Duran might have sounded like had Ian ‘Lightning Seeds’ Broudie got hold of them in their formative days, a boiling brew of throbbing anthemic pop spicily tangy and refitted with a speed of light capability electro turbo charge. What makes this album work to a greater extent is its ability to change tact at the drop of a hat, to mix dark with light, brittle with the smooth, in most hands such a width of styles and tempos might make for something of a fragmented hotch potch, yet Space manage to pull it together and knit it all together into an enriched eclectic blanket so much so that you get the likes of the chilling darkly lit oppression of ‘Pretty Suicide’ rubbing alongside the Pixies doing 50’s bubblegum pop slicked and greased up glam style with an ape-ish Alvin Stardust delivery. On ‘Hitch hiking’ they even get to pay dues to the Clash c. ‘Sandinista’ whereas ‘Hell’s Barbeque’ roasts up an eerie portion of Fun Boy 3’s ‘The lunatics have taken over the asylum’ as though seen through the nightmarishly paranoiac eyes of Robert Smith.
All in all its left to the albums last three cuts to give a hint as to were Space’s collective heads are firmly fixed, ’20 million miles from Earth’ fuses exotically charged fluffy elements to the soothing sophistication of Barry-esque grandeur on a wide screen scale and just when your swooning and up on the ropes ‘Quiet beach’ with its lovelorn gracefulness shreds whatever emotions still linger to bask beneath fiery moons and be serenaded by celestial harps that leave ‘The Goodbye Song’ to numbly bade farewell and send you packing into the night. Beautiful. (Mark Barton)
Original Article available here