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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

(the) Bolshoi - Friends

Name: The Bolshoi
Album: Friends
Style: Dark New Wave
Similar Bands: Adam Ant + James (vox), Robyn Hitchcock, Psychedelic Furs, Echo & the Bunnymen, The The, Luna
"One Word" Review: Gloomy-Dense-New-Wave
Based Out Of: Leeds, England
Label: IRS, MCA
Friends - Cover & Insert
Friends - Back & Insert
Friends - record

Friends (1986)
  1. A Way (4:53) (Sample) (youtube)
  2. Modern Man (5:34)
  3. Someone's Daughter (4:01) (Sample)
  4. Sunday Morning (6:33) (Sample) (Youtube)
  5. Looking for a Life To Lose (4:42)/
  6. Romeo in Clover (5:38)
  7. Books On The Bonfire (4:55) (Sample)
  8. Pardon Me (4:37)
  9. Fat & Jealous (4:10) (you tube)
  10. Waspy (5:11)
Album Rating (1-10):

Band Members & Other Bands:
Trevor Tanner-vocals, guitar (Rathkeltair, Kite, Moskow)
Paul Clark - keyboards (Batley, Refugee Intimates)
Nick Chown - bass
Jan Kalicki - drums
Mick Glossop - produced, engineered
Cream Group - Sleeve
Alan King - photos
Noel Haris - assisted
Richard Whaley - assisted
Damien Askeo-Brown - assisted
Frank DeLuna - mastered

Unknown-ness: I did not have any memory of the band when I bought the album, although I'm pretty sure I've heard the name mentioned, just not enough for it to stick in memory. The album looks dark, with the drab clouds on the cover, along with the evil face. Their Russian/Eastern European name also adds to the coldness, and even the title of Friends cannot warm the mood.

Album Review: On occasion, his voice sounds like Adam Ant. And the song structures are long, complex and gloomy. I've seen the term gothic used for their style, and I can agree to that. "A Way" starts with a far away, dreamy keyboard, and he begins to sing, sounding a little like Tim Booth of James. The music is powerful and anthemic, yet gloomy. The music takes a long time to build, which makes the already long songs feel longer. The second track is more driving and its melody is upbeat. It is here where the singers voice moves from Tim Booth to Adam Ant with perfect ease. There is rough heavy guitar strums, mixed together with spacey guitar making the chorus sound lie a heavy version of Luna. Overall, it comes off like a Three O'Clock song. After the last chorus is sung, a wailing guitar solo is introduced and finishes out the song in fade. It fades right back in to begin the next song "Someone's Daughter." This is another upbeat song, sung (partly) in musical chant. The electric guitar plays a short looping hook. There is no section in the song that stands out as the chorus. Every segment feels like verse, leading up to something that never quite reaches the chorus. Their "popular song" 'Sunday Morning' feels like a Madness song from the latter, less ska section of their catalogue. It is a long song, but the dark sinister tone carries throughout. The piano in the background is what makes the song good. It mimics the vocal melody in echo. The two part chorus begins with a driving sing/song melody, and the main section contains the main hook: 'Sunday Morning.' It ends with a slightly muted rendering of Chop Sticks. The final track on side 1, "Looking For A Life to Lose," starts off with the noise guitar sound of XTC's 'This Is Pop' This is followed by the same recipe for a dark, driving song, and is very gothic. There is a repetitive 3 note guitar hook that introduced the song and appears throughout. There are many musical breaks featuring different renditions of the melody that the chorus uses.

A siren-like guitar begins side two, and then a xylophone that sounds like it was borrowed to make the theme to My So-Called Life is added. Drums kick in and "Romeo in Clover" quickens its pace and becomes a straightforward pop song. They like to take advantage of short verses in order to add many instrumental breaks. "Books on the Bonfire" begins briefly with a worn out distant carnival piano section. And electric guitars lift the song off to a wavery, folky sing/song melody. The upbeat melody of the chorus is unexpected, sounding like a positive sea shanty. "Pardon Me" begins as a slow loungy sea-drifting song and never picks up speed. It feels like a reflective piece, and although it gets heavier with instrumentation, it never wakes up from the original dream it creates. There is something about "Fat Jealous" that irritates me. I do not like the chorus of this song very much, nor the musical structure backing it. This is the most bouncy song, and his voice often sounds like Adam Ant. The tone of voice and the backing Music when he says 'then they tell us...fat jealous' is irking to me in a similar fashion to "Personal Jesus." "Waspy," the final song briefly starts out light, but quickly becomes dark, slow, and full of manipulative dread. It sounds like more gothic Adam Ant songs (like Physical). it also contains elements of prog. There are vocal distortions that are reminiscent of Ween in the background at particular points, and it is these distortions that end the record.

The album is very thick, dense and takes a while to digest. With the long songs, it is also hard to keep attention to the multiple vocal breaks and instrumental sections. But over all, it is a good record, and very representatve for the time period of which it was produced.

Stand-Out Track:


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