Comebacks, auf die die Welt gewartet hat, oder? (XI)
It starts like all the best Deacon Blue records – gradually, subtly, waiting and wondering – just like Raintown, their debut, did 25 years ago. Then it eases into the melodic drive-pop that made the Glasgow band a household name. Produced by ex-Delgado Paul Savage (King Creosote, Admiral Fallow), The Hipsters feels nostalgic and resonant, from opening hymn ‘Here I Am In London Town’ to the chiming reflection of ‘Laura From Memory’ (a perfect DB album track, and that’s no faint praise: they frequently outshone the singles). Yet it breaks new ground: ‘Stars’ is a rush of celestial piano-rock; ‘Turn’ slowly flushes with covetous wrath; the harmonic echo-pop of ‘The Outsiders’ sounds like a wistful, joyous homecoming. Let’s welcome them back with open arms.
The lead single and title track provides the promise of optimistic, sunlit, indie-flecked arrangements, which does follow through for the most part. The rhythmic thump of The Rest and That’s What We Can Do prove to be perfect examples.
Beyond that, The Hipsters does sway briefly into gentler terrain, the sinuous balladry of She’ll Understand complementing the more upbeat numbers effectually. The back-and-forth vocal play between Ricky Ross and Lorraine McIntosh is as congruent as ever – no huge surprise given they’re a married couple – acting as an unpremeditated reminder of the magic of their 1988 benchmark Real Gone Kid.
The Hipsters proves that Deacon Blue are showing their age, in the most positive way – their tightly-defined chemistry, accomplished storytelling and knack for melodies have been finely honed over the past 25 years. And while the title lends itself to all manner of trend-conscious pretension, there are no such gimmicks present.
Instruments win out against any threat of desk over-twiddling, not a million miles from the safer moments of Snow Patrol or latter-day Take That, and something which would translate agreeably to the live stage.
This isn’t a band attempting to recapture their halcyon days – Deacon Blue are doing what they’ve always been able to do with aplomb, atop some well-considered, refined and timely production. There’s no huge statement to be made, no desperate clawing for another shot – merely a legitimate love for what they do. And on The Hipsters, that’s made very evident indeed.