THE ALIENS – Luna (Pet Rock)
The second album from ex-Beta Band member Gordon Anderson carries on pretty much from where the last one left off. ‘Bobby’s Song’ opens in typical fashion, with the song meandering through three or four different sections during its ten minute playing time, each great in its own way with nods to 60’s pop, Syd Barrett, and his former band in places, and sounding even better when mashed up together. ‘Amen’ goes in completely the opposite direction, being an ethereal instrumental with wordless vocals, and clocking in at just over a minute. ‘Theremin’ owes a huge debt to Brian Wilson, and you could almost imagine it slotted in somewhere on ‘Pet Sounds’, but the car effects in the middle do somewhat ruin the flow. ‘Everyone’ runs straight on from ‘Theremin’ and is another Wilson-influenced song, but this time one of his euphoric summer anthems which the boys pull off admirably. ‘Magic Man’ was the first single from the album, and it was a pretty safe choice – an up-tempo rocker with a catchy chorus and some sterling guitar work in the middle, but as an introduction to the album it was really nothing like the four tracks that preceeded it or some of the ones that follow. Another ten minute epic next in ‘Billy Jack’, and this time we are in hard rock territory, with the song starting and closing with gentle guitars and harmony vocals, but really going all out with the driving rhythms and riffing guitars in the middle. The title track is a slow building instrumental packed full of sound effects, but doesn’t really go anywhere, while ‘Dove Returning’ is a bluesy number with Floydian guitar and keyboard solos. ‘Sunlamp Show’ is a bouncy commercial number, sounding somewhat at odds with the previous three tracks, but it is a jaunty interlude before ‘Smoggy Bog’ cranks up the ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ riff for a short trip round the effects cupboard. ‘Boats’ and ‘Blue Mantle’ are two more lengthy songs, clocking in at six and eight minutes respectively, with ‘Boats’ having some lovely guitar fills under the harmony vocals, while ‘Blue Mantle’ has the full bodied sound of a Spiritualized song applied to the delicate melody. ‘Luna’ is a great follow-up to ‘Astronomy For Dogs’, and there are some fantastic songs on here, but it is a tad self-indulgent in places, and in the old days (showing my age here) they would have picked the best tracks to fill a 40 minutes disc and it would have been an outstanding record. It is certainly no disappointment, and contains some stunning music, but a bit of quality control was needed to propel it into the realms of the truly great album.