Sunday, 28 October 2012

BMX Bandits In Space

BMX Bandits release their latest album 'BMX Bandits In Space' tomorrow (29th October) on Elefant Records. I was lucky enough to get an advance copy and I've had a week with the album, so lets check out what Duglas T Stewart and his band of Bandits have been up to...

Before I go any further I have to say that this is a gorgeous record, following on from the remarkable 'My Chain' and 'Bee Stings' that were released in quick succession back in 2006 and 2007.

'BMX Bandits in Space' tells the story of a man travelling through time and space in search of forgiveness and a way back home. Throughout the trip there are small flashes – some are memories and some are figments of his imagination.

The album opens with 'In Space', and it is quite trippy for the Bandits. There are lush strings and Stewart's voice is layered with effects as he sings about '..drifting in space for so long, endlessly singing the same song...'

For anyone new to the Bandits, Stewart is a romantic who wears his heart on his sleeve and he sounds head over heels on this record.

Where there's love, there is hope
Where there's hope, there is you
It's time to start to live

'Still' bubbles into life with a lovely piano riff, gentle acoustic guitar and Duglas singing with real emotion (as he does throughout). The song is a collaboration with Plectrum from Japan and on the evidence of this tune they should get together more often. The gorgeous outro is hypnotic and you can easily get lost (in space) to it.

'Beautiful Friend' picks up the pace before 'Look At You, Look At Me' continues the dreamy feeling that a lot of the songs (and the brilliant production) bring to the album. The song is another collaboration, this time with Cineplexx from Argentina, it also sees Rachel Allison singing for the first time on the album.

'Like The Morning Sun' is one of my favourites from the album, Allison takes on lead vocals for this one and it sounds like she enjoyed singing the beautiful and clever melody.

The album really starts to come into its own with the brilliant 'Listen To Some Music' with Duglas name-checking some of his favourite songs and artists, wearing his musical influences on his sleeve along with his heart.

God only knows what I'd be without you, Brian and Tony know how I feel
They helped me figure out what I was thinking, in the song they made it real

And if you ever need a friend
Just play that song once again
It is one on which you can depend

For those that have followed Duglas and the Bandits, and especially those that have seen Jim Burns 'Serious Drugs' documentary, this is a song that really sums up Duglas - music is his life and it has seen him through some tough times. The song is playful, melodic and meaningful.

'Elegant Love' is the second collaboration with Cineplexx. A duet with Rachel, it has a great feel to it with an uplifting chorus.

'And It's You' hit me instantly, it is totally gorgeous and incredibly catchy.

And if I live to 103
You're still gonna be
A big part of me

The chorus is pop perfection.

And it's you
And it's me
It's a complicated story like the best ones can be

Bandits songs have that instant appeal but they also have an incredible amount of depth, especially when Stewart is on top form and he is on form on this album; lyrically and in voice. The Bandits he has assembled are also on their game and the production is sublime.

'You Disappointed Me' has Rachel singing of a lost love that led her on, she fell for him, believed in him but was ultimately rejected and hurt. The melody is almost nursery like at times.

'Fucked Up This Time' takes the album to a darker place after the head over heels love songs like 'And It's You'. It has a great groove to it and although Stewart's vocals continue to be hushed and considered, there is clear hurt, regret and perhaps a bit of menace in his performance here.

'Fireworks' is a pretty special song for me as it was written by my wee sister! That's right, my wee sister has a song on an album by a band I have been following for a couple of decades. It is rather surreal and Duglas has been exceptionally supportive of Carla and her band TeenCanteen.

The melody flows easily, the lyrics are funny and moving and it is just lovely to hear the care that the Bandits have put into the recording and performance.

'All Around The World' tells of the search for hope and how there has to be something out there.

I believe in beauty, I believe in it and where ever it leads me, that’s where I’ll go
You must believe in something, cause if there's really nothing, then there is no hope

'And While We're Dancing' is a slow waltz style song, Stewart's vocal is especially considerate for this number, beautifully fragile, combining in stunning fashion with Rachel.

Now close your eyes and maybe you'll see
An older you dancing with an old me
Our friends and family will all smile to see
Us dancing our waltz of love

'The Unforgiven' has another stunning vocal performance from Duglas, only accompanied by piano at the start. This has to be a career highlight for the BMX Bandits, if they can swear in one of their song titles then I am going to say that this is fucking brilliant, the closing half of the song flows superbly and the backing vocals are beautiful. Listen to this on headphones. I can't wait to see and hear this performed live.

'In Space (End Theme)' has some lush strings to end the trip.

In the aforementioned documentary 'Serious Drugs' there are a couple of mentions about how BMX Bandits are perceived - perhaps not taking things too seriously (or being taken seriously), Alan McGee even mentioning that some people think (or thought) they are (were) a joke band.

I hope these people listen to BMX Bandits In Space (as well as the previous two albums) as they will discover an artist who pours his heart and soul into his work. Love and hope are out there, you just have to look hard enough, it can be tough at times, but keep at it. It is all worth it in the end.

Duglas T Stewart is in the best form of his career, reaching new heights and creating some wonderful, wonderful moments.

Check the album out, there are some signed copied in Monorail in Glasgow and there are only 500 vinyl copies (pictured above).

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