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The Cinematics - A Strange Education

2007-06-11 16:06
The Scots have an ability to create music that sounds like it is borne from the rain, with huge driving sheets of sound sweeping over your heathen ears. Big Country did it, Deacon Blue did it, Runrig are masters at it, and even the great Mike Scott of the Waterboys sang about it.

Not surprisingly, and despite being some twenty years on from that country’s popular music heyday, The Cinematics deliver on the tradition of vaguely poetic imagery and soaring choruses quite confidently. Formed in Glasgow not so long ago, the group has enjoyed critical praise and this debut album Strange Education ,is a long-awaited affair for new fans who first saw them support the likes of The Editors.

The arriving result is a mixed affair, probably because the production on the album is split down the middle. Master producer Stephen Hague and regular collaborator Bob Kraushaar seem at times to want to strangle the Scottishness out of the band, often to the detriment of the songs’ core.

The tracks credited to Simon Barnicott as producer offer a somewhat different, seemingly smaller context to the band. It really is a matter of individual taste as to which one works better. There’s no doubt that Hague’s affluent pop sensibilities inject a grandiose aspiration, but this only works because the likes of Coldplay and U2 have made it a staple of UK and US radio over the last few years.

Of particular note is the ripping cold-war guitar solo on “Keep Forgetting” – reminiscent of The Edge’s Unforgettable Fire-era work… more of this will earn The Cinematics some respect, if not Top 40 status.

Back in the 80s, this stuff would be lapped-up by fans of the aforementioned Scottish bands. Today, it’s more difficult to see this making a play for extended play listing on MTV. VH-1 Classics in about five years from now may be a better bet.

- Anton Marshall
Before Coldplay became the torchbearers for UK pop, the “big music” came from Scotland.

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