Album Review by Mark Bayross
From the psychedelic cover art and the swaggering opening of debut single QUICKSILVER – singer Duncan Baxter perfecting his best Liam Gallagher sneer – you would think that The Shining are on a mission to drag you kicking and screaming back to the early 90s.
This may be a result of the presence of a certain Mr John Squire in the original, pre-recording line-up, but by the second track, latest single YOUNG AGAIN, it becomes clear that The Shining are on an even more retro trip – they have much more of a classic rock vibe running through their veins.
It has been well documented that The Shining feature two former members of The Verve – Simon Jones and Simon Tong – and Baxter’s vocals on YOUNG AGAIN are a dead ringer for Richard Ashcroft, but this is an altogether different beast and it’s a damn sight more interesting than anything Ashcroft has put his name to since disbanding his former group.
For a start, Youth’s production gives these songs a real sense of scale, opening them up and adding punch to the drums and girth to the guitars. FIND YOUR WAY HOME and SHOW YOU THE WAY are home to some monstrous grooves, while CREST OF AN OCEAN sounds as huge as its title, building superbly on a mandolin-enhanced swirling guitar pattern.
Not all of TRUE SKIES works – it does have moments of tepid navel-gazing, and the three singles (completed by the catchy I WONDER HOW) do show some of the other tracks up as fillers, but that is also an indication of the quality of the key songs.
It ultimately boils down to whether classic rock is your bag. The musicianship cannot be faulted and there are some inspired moments of killer melody, but many of us have moved on from Led Zep riffs and Beatles harmonies. Nonetheless, there’s much here to recommend TRUE SKIES, and it’s bound to make for enjoyable, ahem, night-time listening.
Special mention should also go to the band’s website – infuriating but different.