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Kingsize

The Boo Radleys

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Album Review

The band that was hoping for a fresh start on Mercury Records in the interview herein has been dropped instead. They promise an eventual U.S. release for their new opus, but I wouldn't bet the ranch house. The Boos' U.K. success has oddly never translated here, and it seems as if, like Columbia before them, Mercury gave up before they even started. Bastids. Too bad, too, for what might become the first import-only Boos record is one hell of a return from the OK but somewhat confusing C'mon Kids. The once-again self-produced Kingsize manages to perpetuate its predecessor's predilection for peculiar surprise, but reinserts the crucial missing piece, the very strength of the band throughout its history: basic songwriting. C'mon Kids was wonderfully schizophrenic, and it had its moments like the Cheap Trick-ish title track. But MARTIN CARR is really best when absorbed with the sort of starry-eyed melodies that seem just crafted for SICE to croon, in his leisurely, crying voice that enchanted on so many of the band's finest outings, from "The Finest Kiss" all the way to "Reaching Out From Here." Carr and his three mates aren't trying so hard here, either. They let each song breathe, like on Giant Steps, instead of mildly suffocating the animal with their own eagerness. It starts right from the onset, with the band's two best songs in four years. Punctuated by a thick background forest of four violins, two violas, two cellos, and four brass players, the stomping "Blue Room at Archway" soars celestial-bound on a hook so clean, and a vocal so effortless, it screams the "pop" they're so roundly loved for but have been neglecting. The 12 strings 'n' horns folks stay on for "The Old Newsstand at Hamilton Square," their dulcet and jazzy tones slotting perfectly with the band's supple, firm playing on another hands down winner. (They're a knockout on "JIMMY WEBB is God" too.) Ahh, reverie. And so it goes from there. It's as if Carr was a hot-streak gold miner who emptied out his strike, briefly tapped out, and then suddenly-presto!-hit on a vein as bountiful as his previous (Boo) run. Some of the golden nuggets hit stride running, such as the whimsical but lovely "High as Monkeys" and "Comb Your Hair"; others, such as the flute and keyboards soaked "Monuments For a Dead City," take their damn sweet time fermenting. Singing along with the chorus of "Adieu Clo Clo" is likewise compulsory. No Boos LP is 100% perfect: "Free Huey" is about as awful a choice for a single (why!!!???) as can be conceived. Boo! indeed. Not because it's a spastic, hard-dance tune, but because it's a well-below average one that underachieves like, say, "Ride the Tiger." Massive Attack is not nervous. That and a few of the more slow, psychedelic numbers in the middle can be a little numbing. Other than that, the Boos are still too fresh-faced on the outside, and too full of complexity and depth in the inside, not to reclaim their spot as one of the great bands going. Welcome back, boys, glad your march towards oblivion back home was such a short one, because your prospects here suddenly seem so dim. Spend the bucks, buy the import!

Biography

Formed: 1988 in Liverpool, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s

Formed in Liverpool in 1988, the English guitar pop group the Boo Radleys developed a dedicated cult following in the early '90s before crossing over into the mainstream in the middle of the decade. Originally, the Radleys were one of the lesser lights of the loud, noisy My Bloody Valentine-inspired psychedelic trance pop bands labeled "shoegazers" by the British weekly music press. By the mid-'90s the Boo Radleys had developed into a more straightforward...
Full Bio

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