BMX Bandits - Forever. Yeah BMX Bandits Forever, too right. 16 new tracks of heart-breaking, heart-aching, warm, reflective pop with contributions from and collaborations with many friends of the Bandits.
Duglas T Stewart, leader and conducted of the Bandits, has been releasing/leaking material from this beautiful album since as far back as 2014. I blogged about opening song My Girl Midge in September of that year, marvelling at the warm home production and stunning vocal delivery from Duglas.
Stewart's vocals are stunning on this album, capturing a moment, a feeling, a thought, a dream.... From speaking to Duglas I know that he favours a maximum of a few takes per song. That comes across in the right way on the album, from vocals, to playing and production.
Forever takes us on a journey; break up, memories, That Lonely Feeling, realisation and dreams in Rust .... and Duglas' heart isn't just on his sleeve, he is pouring it out.
Saveoursmiles is a song I heard live back in January and it has that immediacy and simplicity that Stewart has an exceptional talent in finding. Only it's not that simple - just listen to the depth of those lyrics. There is a story and we have reached the point in the story where there is hope that our hero will win his true love back. There is a brilliant organ underpinning the song and the message is clear - lets help each other find our smiles
The album takes an unexpected turn with the brilliant Love Me 'Til My Heart Stops, unexpected in that we hear from the other side. The melody and vocals by Chloe Philip are exquisite, as is the guitar playing and driving beat. I played this one a few times in a row. The chorus is delightful and flows superbly.
Somewhere is dangerously dark, stark, but absolutely beautiful. Fragile, hopeful (just), the sound of someone clinging on to love, hoping it will all work out somewhere. From the musical West Side Story, this is the sound of a broken heart on record with just a tiny shred of hope that it could be mended. There will not be a dry in the house if this is performed live.
Things take an upbeat turn with three songs recorded in collaboration with Dr Cosmos Tape Lab; Way Of The Wolf is gorgeous and then It's In Her Eyes is just brilliant - guaranteed to bring a smile to your face with it's warm feel, melody and story....from both sides. The way Duglas sings sounds so happy and the melody flows superbly.
It's Time begins with an electronic drum machine and a gorgeous glockenspiel melody. Stewart has been through the ringer and now it's time for the two to start again, to love again, to smile again, to live again, time to make a new start. This is pure Beach Boys and pure brilliance.
Next up is another brilliant collaboration, so brilliant that I hope Duglas goes back out to Berlin to record with Anton Newcombe from Brian Jonestown Massacre again. The feel and flow of Razorblades and Honey is sublime. One of the best things Duglas has done in my humble opinion. It's raw, it's rough and it's ready. I love it. The guitar solo is ace, the rhythm section is tight and flowing throughout.
And then we have The Beach Boys Forever. One of the best songs you are ever likely to hear, especially when you hear it being sung by someone so head over heels in love. It is little wonder that Duglas chose not only to record this song, but also to name the album after it.
No Matter What You Say starts all quiet before becoming a stomping declaration of love with more stunning vocals from Chloe Philip. One of the beautiful things about this album is hearing from different perspectives - most love albums are only from one.
How Not To Care is a gentle and reflective song with Stewart pouring his heart out again and the chorus is heartfelt and cleverly written.
Life Without You feels strange at the end of the album and weird coming after the likes of Forever. It is short and to the point - Life feels rubbish without you
Then we end with a short reprise of Mais Do Que Valsa (Just A Memory) that is all kinds of dreamy gorgeousness.
Signed copies of BMX Bandits Forever are available at Monorail in Glasgow, or you can order vinyl or CD from the good folks at Elefant Records.