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Booth, James & the Return: Postcards From The New Frontier

At first glance, a power-pop album steeped in every era from the 60s to the 80s might not feel like the perfect fit for us here at Sea of Tranquility, but even a little digging soon reveals why that might not be exactly the case. For example, in the credits on Postcards From The New Frontier, both James Booth (who would also appear to be The Return referenced in the band name) and a certain Fernando Perdomo (yes, he of some mightily fine prog albums in recent years) are listed as playing all of the instruments. Perdomo also produced the album, while Booth wrote each and every one of the songs.

So far, so intriguing, and when you add in that the power-popping that ain’t stopping seems to come with liberal dollops of Rush in its guitar tone and construction - even if not really the end results - suddenly there’s a whole lot more going on than first impressions might hint at. The album itself is hi-tech/lo-fi, if that makes sense? A stripped back sound that feels intentionally ramshackle keenly knocked into shape in a way that smoothes down the most jagged splinters while leaving the rough edges in place. Vocally, Booth reminds of Geddy Lee if he’d been squeezed into Ozzy Obsourne’s body 40 years ago - but only if Paul McCartney then decided to give that unlikely jigsaw-man some singing lessons. Sounds all bit mixed up? Well, it’s understandable because “The Afterimage Of Love” rocks, pops, psychs and progs in, well, not quite equal measure, but certainly a way that allows you to almost, but not quite, tie the bugger down and stick a genre tag on it.

In truth, as you traverse the acoustic gallop of “Murder Ballad No. 7”, playfully insistent “Morgana LaMore” and its 60s pop-psych hooks, and the cleverly titled “I Nowhere You’ve Been” - which almost feels like The Monkees have been walloped headlong into The La’s - the devil may careness about this whole damn album both becomes its strongest weapon and thinnest breaching-point. And at fourteen songs long, the strengths and weaknesses become ever more apparent. I should be able to tell you that Postcards… is a whole lot of fun, and it is, and yet somehow it all feels a little earnest for that tag, while still coming across as a fleeting flight of fancy. Confused? OK, me too, but I like it… I think!


Track Listing
1. All That I Can Never Be
2. No Friend Of Narnia
3. Morgana LaMore
4. Heartbreak Hill
5. A Message For The King
6. The Afterimage Of Love
7. Murder Ballad No. 7
8. Asgardia, Take My Hand
9. Stardeath
10. Every Shade Of Emerald
11. Lady May
12. I Nowhere You’ve Been
13. Naked Came the Stranger
14. I Will Destroy You In Time

Added: July 25th 2022
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: James Booth & The Return @ bandcamp
Hits: 80
Language: english

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