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Adrian Borland - Alexandria review (Sounds 30-9-1989)

date: Sep 30, 1989


 

ADRIAN BORLAND & THE CITIZENS - ALEXANDRIA 
(1989 Play It Again Sam) 

Adrian Borland has always been able to write a crowd pleaser - that mystic; elusive amalgam of romantic anthem and little-man protest- right from the days of 'Jeopardy', the first LP by The Sound. When The Sound called it a day, critically scathed once too often, Borland drifted in production. Not so long ago he held court in a Wapping pub about how the music press hounded him almost casually while effusing over the prettier McCulloch. He was making sense, and here is the solo vinyl to back him up. The Citizens are a mysterious bunch of allies. Danny Thompson (of Nick Drake and John Martyn fame) plays string bass, Anthony Thistlethwaite of The Waterboys blows sax and 'there's a string quartet lurking around in the shadows. 

With this lot on board Borland's songs inevitably wind up sounding a lot softer than the Sound albums. 'Light The Sky' is an optimistic start, beautifully understated - Borland's one of the few refugees from the early '80s to show continuing respect for acoustic guitars - and indeed the whole of the first side is confident, up and motoring, without once succumbing to arrogance or bombast. The second side is where things start to really get interesting. 'Weight Of Stuff' is a very idiosyncratic, coy shuffle upon which Borland casts some lyrical pearls. It's followed by 'She's My Heroine': "She gets under my skin," he sings, ambiguously and lets the whole thing collapse under Thistlethwaite's sax. ' Mostly, though, it's a shy, getting-down-to-it kind of album; you can tell by the way Borland's name is relegated to fourth in the list of Citizens In the age of the loud man, Adrian Borland is speaking softer and softer, wearing his leather jacket tucked up against the cold and broadcasting to those who'll listen. A great deal more power to him. 

DAVID CAVANAGH

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