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Boris – Attention Please

Sargent House

Well, what can I say…..I was going to start off this review with the same two words used to review Spinal Tap’s Shark Sandwich album…..You see I’ve been a Boris fan and collector for quite a few years, this at times has been quite a hard and infuriating task. They have either constantly recorded two mixes of their albums or added one track on to an alternate label release or made stuff in such small quantities that you end up paying a stupid price for it just to lay your hands on a copy. With so many limited releases it at times began to feel silly chasing around for their albums and made the whole notion of limited releases seem preposterous. But, you know, I kind of forgave them for that because the quality of their output (even though there was a lot of it) was generally very high. And now we come to Attention Please…..

First off Attention Please is not a Boris album in the strictest sense of the word. You have to leave all preconceptions of what a Boris album does at the record store door when (and if) you buy this album. The opening track “Attention Please” fails to manage that, apart from the shock of how listless they sound – the vocals sound bored and the guitar fails to ignite at all. “Hope” is indie pop, smothered in mellotron keyboards and understated guitars; it has melody but no momentum. “Party Boy” starts off sounding like an early Stranglers song, all big heavy bass and punchy pop punk sensibility, Wata’s vocals reminding me of Annabella Lwin from Bow Wow Wow, and again the guitar seems noticeably absent. “See You Next Week” has some of Boris’s melancholy and drifting ambience of old and sounds like a sad song on a slow train to nowhere and is more reminiscent of Neil Young’s Dead Man soundtrack.

Yes! The guitar finally kicks in with some passion at the beginning of “Tokyo Wonder Land”…..then pulls back again. Wata is a wonderful guitar player with some great riffs and some amazing lead, so it’s sad to see her underused here, however, every time her lead punches in its fantastic and soars you to heaven. “You” is a reflective track with quietly played guitars and restrained drums under Wata’s lovely vocals, and it touches a similar feel to that of David Sylvian’s recent releases. A poetical guitar line introduces “Alleron” which has more in feel with A Farewell to Kings era Rush and I have to say is quite beautiful, and ends as romantically as it starts. “Les Paul Custom 86” is an odd jittering indie rock tune that staggers around like a drunk friend. “Spoon” is a powerhouse Boris rocker with vocal melody that lifts it above its basic barre chord progression into something more sublime. Yet again though, the guitar seems somewhat buried. “Hand in Hand” is a delicate psychedelic desert blues to end the album, the vocals taking centre stage over a wailing guitar and echoed chords.

So if you’re expecting some massive piece of drone sludge or a big power song workout with some exciting guitar riffs you are going to be sorely disappointed. The whole album feels understated – not saying that’s a bad thing, however it does negate what Boris do best at times. It’s an interesting album that has some good ideas and is certainly well executed and you have to admire them for their experimentation. For me though there was something slightly lacking. As albums go it will easily stand head and shoulders above a lot of recent releases by other bands, but as a Boris album it still tastes a bit of shark sandwich.

-Gary Parsons-

 

 

 

 

 

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