Harlequin and Clown
Much has been made of Mike Scott’s lyrical wordplay, his way with a line – but I can’t hear anything that clever or interesting on his Waterboys’ latest, Modern Blues. But worse than that, his pedestrian phrasing – the same sound on every single song – seems to be channelling 1980s Van Morrison and 1970s Bob Dylan, with an end result – musically – that makes this, at best, feel like some third Travelling Wilburys album.
The only problem with all of that is it might seem I’m showering this with compliments. I’m not.
The plodding pub-rock stodge seems virtually free of dynamics – and Scott’s worst recorded moment is here with the aiming-to-be-epic 10-minute closer, Long Strange Golden Road. His Kerouac referencing can’t save this.
“The Big Music” just sounds thick and turgid now. Completely – and utterly – unremarkable. And to call something Modern Blues and have it sound so dated shows a distinct lack of awareness, like the only thing Scott has listened to with any interest in recent years is his own previous work. Pity he wasn’t paying close enough attention to the melodies, to the slippery moments within. This is all just faux rock-stomp. It’s dull, almost shapeless.