Release Date: Jan 6, 2017
Record label: N/A
“I tapped directions on the app,” begins the new record by Bristol stalwarts the Blue Aeroplanes, whose heyday was the 80s/90s cusp; they were beloved by REM. Welcome, Stranger! is pointedly set in the present day, but the Aeroplanes – dormant for many years since 2011’s Anti-Gravity – still play guitars so jangly they almost sound like bagpipes on Sweet, Like Chocolate. The main draw of this art-rock band (they have a dancer) remains the offhand, half-spoken work of poet-frontman Gerard Langley, who now teaches at Bristol’s BIMM music college.
The Blue Aeroplanes have always been so individual - almost aggressively so if they hadn’t been so self-aware of the one-the-nose-ness of their 'artrock' - that when they take ten years to release an album, it seems safe to assume it’s because they’ve waited til they’ve got something new to say, something really creative to do. And what they’ve come up with is… not exactly that. There are enjoyable elements to Welcome, Stranger! - Gerard Langley’s sprechgesang that typifies their artrock™ sound makes a welcome return, their classic mostly fluid, occasionally crunchy guitars play melodic riffs.