What’s Eating Gilbert Grape - A Blue Image
Ed James 18/09/2008
'A Blue Image was inspired by the fact that you only ever think of yourself' proclaims the back cover's epigraph placed beneath a photo of four shifty looking Cornishmen standing with their tops off in a pond. The one standing second from the back has clearly just remembered that he's left the iron on. I was rather hoping that the performers were going to be the Indian gentlemen in silk robes and ladies in elbow-length gloves that adorn the front cover.
It's a bad sign when I find more entertainment in the design of the sleeve than I do in the record therein. Like something assembled by Nathan Barley's cheeky cousin (Pearl Barley?), A Blue Image opens with the sound of a lady growing increasingly saucy while someone discharges a gun close at hand. 'Surely quality like this can't be sustained for an entire EP?', I wonder. It can't. After about a minute of this, this primitive sonic collage abates and What's Eating Gilbert Grape start to play rock music. But not just any old rock music - moderate rock music.
It's a traditional record in the sense that Harvester restaurants are traditional pubs. Its dull, grungy influences are worn on its sleeve and it strums and thumps away for a while until the fourth song Autumn which features a cello. Fall Away is a homage to the sort of guitar solos that Spinal Tap failed to kill off and indulges itself for well over eight minutes, as meandering and characterless as the rest of the record.