Thursday, January 26, 2006
A Walk Across the Rooftops
The Blue Nile
This debut album by Paul Buchanan and the rest of The Blue Nile was easily one of the more important releases to emerge from the so-called '80s new romantic scene. Most of the tracks in the album offered a novel mixture of stripped-down electronic backbeats with haunting, almost eerie melodies that complemented Buchanan's sad and heartfelt words. It has been claimed by many critics as an album way ahead of its time, primarily because the band chose to relegate to the background the screaming synths and danceable rhythms that were all the rage in that era.
While A Walk Across the Rooftops did house the popular (and danceable) new wave anthem, "Stay," most of the other songs are slow and folksy, progressing along a more soulful and introspective line. When Buchanan wails "The lights are always changing/The black and white horizon/I leave the redstone building/And walk across the rooftops..."(A Walk Across the Rooftops) or the more direct, "Do I love you? Yes, I love you. Will we always be happy-go-lucky?"(Tinseltown in the Rain), his scarred voice seems for a moment to make up all the melancholy in the world. He was no Jeff Buckley or Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters), but it probably was better that way. And this will become clear in the bands' succeeding albums, which has been hailed as two of the most important albums of the past two decades (Hats and Peace at Last, respectively).
Now with four albums under their name (the latest to be released was the again acclaimed High, in 2004), The Blue Nile have cemented their status as an important and (still) influential force in the modern rock scene.
The line of traffic comes to a stand still
For the love King, out in the morning air
I find a place I started from
The wild is calling, this time I follow
In the bureau typewriter's quiet
Confetti falls from every window
Throwing hats up in the air
A city perfect in every detail
I know you, birthday cards and silent music
Paperbacks and Sunday clothes
In hallways and railway stations
Radio across the morning air
A crowd of people everywhere
And then the people, all running forward