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Adrian Borland - Alexandria review (Melody Maker 30-9-1989)

date: Sep 30, 1989


(1989 Play It Again Sam) 

The man is back! Yes, that one! Forget the McCulloch album and investigate the deeper and less self-conscious furrows of the former fulcrum of The Sound, recently seen rocking' out at Perfect Disaster gigs, down the front with the sweaty ones at lggy, and generally being jolly and garrulous all over town. A man who brought this record round to my hovel for a sneak preview a few months back, only to talk all the way through it. Now it's time for the long-time-coming solo album to do the ear bending, and after initial reservations induced by the paucity of the production, my ears considered themselves well and truly bent. In a straightforward sort of way. 

Adrian must be heartily weary of the phrases "sorely under-rated" and "sadly unappreciated" by now, although in certain loopy countries (like, say, Holland) he is revered as a demi-god. This comeback won't disappoint the loyal, who receive his every pained syllable and storming chord change as Holy Communion. Y' know, they're not that for wrong. When Borland gets this songwriting lark right, he gets it damn near perfect. After the lackluster opening of "Light The Sky", the pungent "Rogue Beauty" trips over itself with romantic zeal - it's the first of half a dozen potential the-heart-is-a-lonely-hunter rock standards. Actually it's not without an astute realism': "She won't be what they say she should be/Not all she's cracked up to be/But she'll have something definitely/A certain something just for me... " Borland often treads a thin line between gallantry and mawkishness, but on 'Alexandria' he's more light-footed than ever before, rarely letting the reins go AWOL, seldom allowing himself his customary parched shrieks of guitar and throat. He's chosen to let the songs do the emoting. 

A host of semi-name guest players contribute, but it's always his stallion, getting up a gallop for the wing-heeled "Community Call" and the epic, stirring, "No Ethereal". Ballads like "Other Side Of The World" and "Deep Deep Blue" lack spark, but the biting "Weight Of Stuff" ( Am I corrupted or just plain weak?) ponders imponderables without getting ponderous. No mean feat. "She's My Heroine" is a jagged stab of joyfully ambivalent obsession. At last the guitar gets to wiggle its hips It's, um, formative okay?" mutters the sleeve. "Alexandria" sees Adrian Borland, one of our sanest irrepressible lunatics, mapping out a path from The Sound to a new fury. lt's taking shape, gathering momentum. Insurrection, resurrection. 


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