Scots’ comeback showcases their tightly defined chemistry and accomplished storytelling.
Al Fox 2012
Eleven years since their last original release, with between-album pursuits ranging from actor to TV presenter to university lecturer, staple highlight-of-a-decade Deacon Blue have never fully gone off the radar. Members have sporadically dipped back into the band via best ofs, reunion tours and one-off events.
And the parallel careers are on hold once again, this time for a full studio album. But with The Hipsters, there’s a real feeling of commitment to the cause.
The lead single and title track provides the promise of optimistic, sunlit, indie-flecked arrangements, which does follow through for the most part. The rhythmic thump of The Rest and That’s What We Can Do prove to be perfect examples.
Beyond that, The Hipsters does sway briefly into gentler terrain, the sinuous balladry of She’ll Understand complementing the more upbeat numbers effectually. The back-and-forth vocal play between Ricky Ross and Lorraine McIntosh is as congruent as ever – no huge surprise given they’re a married couple – acting as an unpremeditated reminder of the magic of their 1988 benchmark Real Gone Kid.
The Hipsters proves that Deacon Blue are showing their age, in the most positive way – their tightly-defined chemistry, accomplished storytelling and knack for melodies have been finely honed over the past 25 years. And while the title lends itself to all manner of trend-conscious pretension, there are no such gimmicks present.
Instruments win out against any threat of desk over-twiddling, not a million miles from the safer moments of Snow Patrol or latter-day Take That, and something which would translate agreeably to the live stage.
This isn’t a band attempting to recapture their halcyon days – Deacon Blue are doing what they’ve always been able to do with aplomb, atop some well-considered, refined and timely production. There’s no huge statement to be made, no desperate clawing for another shot – merely a legitimate love for what they do. And on The Hipsters, that’s made very evident indeed.