Tuesday, January 30, 2007

airport girl @ the buffalo bars, islington, 26th january 2007 (or not)

it says nearly as much for the organisational skills of the in love with these times, in spite of these times massive as the evident punter-pulling power of recently reinvigorated east midlands tunesmiths airport girl that by the time we had congregated outside the low-slung seventies concrete of the rebuilt highbury station, the board was up to tell us that the gig had sold out. so we settled in for an altogether quieter night in the compton arms, and ended up reminiscing over j2o and shandy about the days of sarah, in particular the time we saw blueboy at sound city in brizzle and really thought they were about to break big... ah well. shows how much we know about music.

still, while you're here, airport girl's new, wintry evening set "slow light" is one of the best albums on fortuna pop! for ages, despite sharing hardly any genes with the desperately-unacknowledged greatness of the band's finest moment, 2004's "salinger wrote". stepping knowingly away from the breezier, more shambling (but less consistent) "honey i'm an artist" lp, their second full-length takes much of its cue from country-tinged americana, with the tunes managing to sound somehow more austere even as the number of instruments multiplies. and whereas we have really tried (but failed) to enjoy slower-fi, tradition-soaked albums in the past, from bands from sodastream to gravenhurst, "slow light" is just melodic enough on one hand, and unassuming enough on the other, to mean that it can even overcome couplets like "hold me through the night / hold me until it gets light". indeed, the authentic world-weariness of the opening brace of tracks is something that youthful pretenders - you know, all those 20-year old students with beards doing anti-folk by numbers - daily fail to emulate. ever-welcome go-betweens comparisons force themselves on you too, most eagerly (and perhaps deliberately) on "don't let me down again" and "show me the way", and there's even the ghost of airport past in the shape of a revisited "mexico". on occasion ("the weather song"), the cleverness of the arrangements slightly gets in the way of the songs themselves, but overall the sound of this girl growing up is far more rewarding than we could have dared contemplate.

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