Angel Air 2018
Another flight from KURSAAL alumni who reach for stars ‘n bars nowadays.
They’re here to stay, these guys, and their third album is a testament to the English ensemble not being a pastiche project of pop veterans. More so, “Senior Moments” – a loosely conceptual sequel to "Still Twenty-Five In Your Head" – portray the group as elder statesmen who still can teach youngsters how to let one’s hair down and raise a sawdust. Still, for all the record’s seriousness, its grooves host a lot of mischief.
With swamp blues licks setting the scene for hootenanny, “King Of Dixie” is a wistful, rather than celebratory, acceptance of royal mantle that is going to be rocked and rolled along the county line once guitars-and-piano jangle and Paul Shuttleworth’s dreamy voice turn their country comfort zone on its head and engage in the unhurried rumble of “Gold Fever” and electric swirl of “Heads Turn” to light a smile on the listener’s face. There’s also worry to balance the mood, though.
“Seems I’m suffering from social disease”: this line from the dramatic “On Days Like These” may suggest a degree of alienation, yet tuneful stories such as the old-timey, bleary-eyed “Handsome Boy” or “Not A Moment Too Soon” – instilled with honeyed harmonies and Vic Collins’ pedal steel – are full of warm sympathy and community spirit which contrast the loneliness of the songs’ protagonists. So if “Neil Young In The Dark” perfectly captures its titular character’s sweet pining – a companion to many a romantic relationsip – the doo-wop-tinged “Ol ’45” and the equally twangy “Pretty Pretty Lies” conveying a sense of delicious urgency are playfully infectious.
It’s moments like these that make the seniors look young, not ugly. Reaching beyond a joke, here’s a band to relish.