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Thursday 24 October 2019

Andy Bopp - Maker

Followers of Andy Bopp's solo career will know how much he has evolved. But if you listen to both of his previous albums, Maker will not seem so different. Listening back to Wherewithal and Blisters And Thorns, I saw the connection clearer than on my first few listens to this. The variety and versatility on those two albums hid the direction, but I do feel they were stops on the journey to here.

There is less variety on Maker, it's more thematic, but it just might be the best thing that Bopp has ever done. Both are reviewed on IDHAS if you want to compare, but the future is now. I said on my intro to Mick's Interview with Andy, that Maker was more Bowie than Chilton and that's true. Those Myracle Brah albums are fantastic, but would you want the same thing again and again?

Without making this about me, there are similarities in how we both feel. I write, Andy creates and performs, but how I feel about Power Pop at the moment mirrors on his not wanting to make the same album again and again. The genre itself has become frustrating, arguments about what is and what isn't Power Pop and the oneupmanship. IDHAS evolves and thankfully so does Andy Bopp.

So having previously established that Maker is not a Power Pop album, what is it? Well it's also not a Guitar album, yes the guitar is present, but it's low in the mix, if at all. If this were Bowie, it would be Berlin or Latter Day Bowie. It's wonderfully inventive, but don't expect to sing along. The album demands your attention and rewards you for it.

This is a very electronic affair, but just to tease you Bopp ends proceedings with Lights And Saviors, a really poptastic affair with riffs to treasure. Great as though that is, being the fellow that we have come to know and love, what lies before is more interesting. The album centres around two versions of In The Interest Of Time.

The impression that I get of that song is that the slower, less synth led version, was the first written with the Part 1 Edition, a later take. Well the latter is enthralling, a synth hook reminiscent of the better 80's duos that offered up songs that were more than a vibe and a drum pattern. It does feel a bit Heroes, but not wholly.

Years and Years is moody and hypnotic, totally gripping in it's minimal make up. That Bass line, the occasional piano, it is very Thomas Dolby, musically. Idle Hours is a mixture of the old new. An atmospheric verse with a jaunty chorus. Tooth And Nail is almost campfire acoustic with a Scarborough Fair Canterbury feel to the arrangement.

The Bowie references keep coming. Cigarette should be on Scary Monsters. Drive Me Crazy is a cover of the Fine Young Cannibals song, plenty of similarities to the original, but far more chirpy with Brass.

The stand out though is the title track, it's very staccato with a shared Soul vocal in the chorus. It rocks out in that chorus, but the almost spoken verse beautifully contradicts it. It's a crackerjack of a song, but completely unexpected as an album opener.

After Mick had interviewed Andy, I asked Mr Dillingham what he thought of the album. It was refreshing to hear him feel the same way as me. He compared it to what Chris Stamey and Peter Holsapple do away from The dB's. I hope others get this in the way that we both do. It's a masterpiece, but it is going to take repeated listens to realise that. It's worth the effort.

But Is It Power Pop? NO!

You can listen to and buy the album here.


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