There’s a man out there, name of Brett Schewitz, one of the many I’ve met through Twitter who’s proven himself to be a stand-up guy, the kind of dude who says what me means and does what he says, which makes him pretty rare in a world of people who are full of talk and not much else.
Anyway, he hooked me up with the new Morcheeba album, Blood Like Lemonade, about a week before it launched but instead of jumping in there and reviewing it right away, I dicked around for about two months and missed the scoop on this album completely.
So Brett, this review’s for you and the good folks at Sheer Sound, sorry it’s taken so long to bash out, I blame the whisky.
So, Morcheeba. There’s a name you probably haven’t thought of since the late 90s. They KILLED it with their album Big Calm back in 1998, which quickly became the soundtrack to many a late-night toking-session with pseudo-intellectual varsity students the world over smoking ridiculous-looking glass bongs and zoning-out to trip hop masterpieces like “The Sea” and “Part Of The Process”.
Since then it’s been a little patchy for the formidable threesome of DJ Paul Godfrey, multi-instrumentalist Ross Godfrey and singer Skye Edwards, who comprised the band’s original line-up. Remember the nursery-rhyme vacuity of “Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day”? Yeah, it was pop-inspired tracks like that gem that lost Morcheeba almost all it’s street cred.
I mean seriously, “One fine day / We’ll fly away / Don’t you know that Rome wasn’t built in a day / Hey hey hey”. Yeah, and then we’ll make hay, down by the bay, we just may, make hay all day. Dr Seuss could have done a better job.
Around 2003 the band axed Skye Edwards and pumped out another few albums which I’m sure some die hard fan is going to come out of the woodwork and attack me for saying that nobody really gave a crap about.
Queue 2010 and I’m sitting with my headphones on on a sunny Friday at work spinning Blood Like Lemonade and I’m thinking “Holy fuck, this shit’s good.”
The band’s come full circle, both musically and in terms of their line-up, which (thank God) now includes Edwards again and believe me, that fact in itself is reason enough to go out and buy this album right now.
The woman can sing. It’s like listening to Billy Holiday’s older sister. Every note Edwards sings is clear as a bell and warm as a logfire on a winter’s night.
And don’t even get me started on the lyrics, because I honestly won’t stop. The opening track “Crimson”, which is also my favourite on the album starts with some of the most powerful and evocative lines I’ve heard in a long time.
“I can smell the Goodyears burning / And it won’t fade away / Windscreen broken, you’re bleeding / Rolling action replay / Hellbound hopeless for you / Nothing left to hold on to…”
There’s a subtle darkness to “Crimson” that is so goddamn seductive it’s impossible to ignore. It almost sounds like a Massive Attack track, something off Mezzanine, except infinitely more chilled. It’s trip-hop without the pretence, beautiful in its simplicity.
Then cut straight to a track like “I Am The Spring” and you’ll start to understand what makes this album really stand out. “I Am The Spring” is as sparse as it gets, the entire track is just Edwards being accompanied by an acoustic guitar which, in my humble (read: overinflated) opinion is the ultimate litmus test for any musician. Strip all the production and fancy studio effects out of a song and what have you got left?
In this case, you’ve got a powerful and haunting song about love that tells it like it is, ending with the line “I am the spring / Love is blossoming / But I’ll take the fall for you” which, much like love itself, is perfect in its tragedy.
Throw in a track that tells the story of a person who gets addicted to the thrill of murder (“Recipe For Disaster”), one where Edwards takes an honest and introspective look at the band itself (“Even Though”), and the excellently written and produced title track (“Blood Like Lemonade”) which smacks of Big Calm and you’ve got an album that is really hard not to like.
Just watch out for the instrumentals “Mandala” and “Cut To The Bass”, they’re fun the first few times, but the novelty wears off fast after which point they become repetitive and downright boring to listen to, but hey, no album is perfect right?
All in all, I found Blood Like Lemonade to be a great album and it’s sure to go down like a whore on payday the next time you whip that old, ridiculous glass bong out the closet and invite your mates around for an old-school smoke up.
Final Verdict: 7.5/10