Amy Blue - The Fortress and The Fatalist
Chris Tapley 22/07/2009
In 2006 London quartet Amy Blue leaked songs from their debut EP as supposed unreleased demos by Smashing Pumpkins…and almost got away with it, this seems hard to believe now though. Certainly the band take most of their cues from that kind of American alt rock as well as shoegaze, My Bloody Valentine being another prevalent influence (as the cover art would suggest). They infect this though with a distinctly English influence, incorporating the kind of anthemic indie tunes that recall the Britpop era. It's an interesting combination, albeit one which doesn't always work quite as effectively as they would hope.
The songs are there, opener 'The End of the World' for example could be a potentially great straightforward if a little macabre indie track, the introduction of noise and shoegaze elements though leaves it with a bit of an identity crisis and as a result it's neither as musically interesting or as catchy as it could have been. For a band dealing in these kind of noise elements it is surprisingly in their scarce quieter moments when Amy Blue at their most absorbing, like on the dreamy 'Speak of the Devil', they pull off understated melancholy very well. Whilst their heavier side doesn't quite pack enough of a punch to get excited about, rather just ending up like the forcing together of two incompatible elements, leaving them in a kind of tedious middle ground a lot of the time.
There are fleeting moments where their combination of indie hooks and noise meld together perfectly, like 'Itch', it's Gallagher-esque opening riff giving way to the catchy if slightly clumsy lyrical refrain of; “sat by the windows watching people watching the windows”. Sadly this is one of the few lines which are at all memorable, a record such as this really needs great lyrics to stand up against repeat listens, for the most part though the lyrics are at best un-intrusive, and at worst, slightly cringe worthy.
'Yellow House' is another stand out track, probably the most notable. Again here though it works because certain elements of Amy Blue's sound have been scaled back. There's very little of their noise/shoegaze side evident in this track here, it's just a brilliantly emotive and passionate alt rock song with flashes of experimental tendencies. 'Amy Dates Destiny' is also more noticeable, sounding like classic 90's Britpop in the vein of Babybird or Suede, albeit with a more interesting mathy guitar line lying underneath.
There are a hundred odd bands that I could cite as reference points throughout the course of these 8 tracks. Although Amy Blue's ambition is admirable there's just a little too much going on in 'The Fortress and the Fatalist' for it to be as cohesive as it ought to be, sonically though it's a collection of interesting ideas being played with by a band who certainly have the potential to make them in to something greater than the sum of their parts.
Release date: 20/07/09