Unsettlingly serene synth pop returns under the cover of night as BC Camplight check back in to the twilit hotel. How To Die In The North is another night-time pantomime of sorrowful vocal performances, beats that sound like shoes dashing down the street, sparkling electronics and untraceable guitar riffs. Dream pop of the darkest variety. Good night, and good luck.
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BC Camplight describes himself as “the guy who blew it”. After a couple of well received solo albums in the early 2000’s, he played live with future dad-rock monoliths War on Drugs before making the unusual move from sunny Philadelphia to rainy Manchester. On the opening few tracks of this album on Bella Union he justifies any previous hype with a string of radio friendly, oddly catchy orch-pop.
‘Just Because I Love You’ is the track that you’ve been hearing on 6 Music where you start thinking Ariel Pink might have finally cleaned up his act, stopped the smirk-pop and gone serious. A delightfully pillowy 70’s chicken-in-the-basket treat recommended for fans of anyone from Sad Cafe to The Motors to Supertramp to 10cc. Sweeeeeeet. Opener ‘You Should Have Gone to School’ is even better, some thrashing guitar destroys any worries of saccharine easy listening brought about by his choirboy high voice. One of those songs which you are sure has been a hit in some kind of parallel universe.
Problem is….after track three I’m finding it a mixed bag, the songs veer between sloth slow 70’s ballads (‘Good Morning Headache’) insanely annoying Jellyfish-ish wacky pop (‘Lay Me on the Floor’) culminating in the schmaltzy overblown ‘Without You’ rip off ‘Why Doesn’t Anyone Fall In Love Anymore’. Your enjoyment of the record will certainly depend on how much you can stomach such 70’s prepost-a-ballads although before it gets bogged down in that nonsense BC Camplight certainly provides plenty of flyaway Jeff Lynne-ish pleasures. He’s obviously enjoying himself and on the excellent ‘Thieves In Antigua’ gets as close as anyone has to replicating the Brian Wilson harmony pop template.
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- How To Die In The North by BC Camplight
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