Album Reviews

The Heart Strings – Try Fly Blue Sky

(Grandpa Stan) UK release date: 9 June 2008

The world could do far worse than have more music by The Heart Strings in it. Co-produced by Julian Simmonds, who you’ll know from his work with Guillemots and Midlake, Try Fly Blue Sky is the same kind of summery, happy, gentle pop that might have escaped from a Bella Union sampler when no-one was looking.

With a lyrical quirkiness that sits somewhere between Jim Noir and The Decemberists, filled with melodies driven more by piano than guitar, The Heart Strings are feelgood music for days when you’re too busy smiling to worry about being cool.

Recalling great purveyors of unashamedly shiny pop from Guillemots to Captain to The Feeling, Try Fly Blue Sky could be Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band without the drugs. In a good way, you understand. The lovely Pedal, for instance, sidles along with the type of rythmns you might employ on a pedalo headed to the centre of a clear blue lake.

Brothers Todd (vocals, guitar, keyboards, co-producing) and Max (drums, piano) Roache do look like stationery salesmen, but that’s a minor gripe when they serenade you so beautifully. While most of TFBY isn’t overtly intended to be full of love songs, the gentleness and tenderness of the tunes ends up fulfilling that function admirably.

Titles such as Nina And Her Very Long Hair, He Wanted To Fly And He Flew, or Cannonball Stan carry their sweetness on their sleeve, twinkling in from a land of pop fairytales even when they are presented by men in sta-press slacks.

There’s a simplicity to the music that belies the complexity of the brothers’ honey-drenched piano chords and classical arrangements, a little cheekiness that suggests they know more than you think they do; that they’re not quite as innocent as they’re letting on.

Caught between bigger boys of rock, you could let them slip by if sun-drenched moments such as the sublime The New Golden Days didn’t hook you and reel you in so completely. There’s a nu-gaze haze over their Supertramp foundations that can’t be ignored.

The only downside is that the summer might not be as good as you need it to be to get the most out of this album. Lazy, hazy summer afternoons on the sunlounger, with a pitcher of homemade lemonade and ice-cubes would be the perfect accompaniment to Try Fly Blue Sky. Until the right weather arrives, close your eyes and imagine, instead.

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The Heart Strings – Try Fly Blue Sky