|Mark Morriss — A Flash of Darkness (2014)|
Mark Morriss — A Flash of Darkness
♦ Over the years Britpop’s reputation may have been tarnished but Mark Morriss, former lead singer of The Bluetones was always one of its shining lights. ‘A Flash Of darkness’, his second solo album is full of the the same intriguing wordplay and earworm melodies with an engrossing mix of folk, indie, strings and brass.
Born in Hounslow, Middlesex in 1971
Location: Hounslow, Greater London, England
Album release: February 21, 2014
Record Label: Acid Jazz Records
01 A Flash of Darkness 3:15
02 Consuela 4:05
03 Guilty Again 3:34
04 It's Hard to Be Good All the Time 4:07
05 Pink Bullets 3:39
06 Low Company 3:57
07 Life Without F(r)iction 5:06
08 This Is the Lie (And That's the Truth) 2:23
09 Space Cadet 3:41
10 Nightcall 5:00
11 Sleep Song 5:16
℗ 2014 Acid Jazz Records
¶ Since the break-up of the Bluetones in 2011, a band with an enviable career span that largely managed to avoid the Britpop roll call of the 90s, front man Mark Morriss has been exploring his options.
Posted by Denise Tench on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 · Score: 7
¶ “To be honest, I didn’t know what I was going to do. So I threw a lot of irons into the fire”. Since the break-up of the Bluetones in 2011, a band with an enviable career span that largely managed to avoid the Britpop roll call of the 90s, front man Mark Morriss has been exploring his options.
¶ Despite this not being his first lone venture, A Flash of Darkness exposes a degree of insecurity not present since Memory Muscle, Morriss’ laid-back strings-infused début of 2008. It would be easy to say this is due to the Bluetones security blanket having been shrugged off, but whatever the reason, it has introduced a new facet to Morriss that offers his music an extra level of depth.
¶ While the almost effortless pop tracks are certainly here, see ‘Consuela’ and ‘Space Cadet’, the album’s highlights lie in the tracks skirting his comfort zone, which he never entirely leaves throughout.
¶ ‘Low Company’ and ‘It’s Hard to be Good all the Time’ provide an example of how Morriss has toned-down his traditional finger-picked joviality to give breathing space to a more self-exploratory, introverted approach. This subtler combination really works and opens a new identity for Morriss as a singer-songwriter.
¶ While many will feel dubious about The Shins’ ‘Pink Bullets’ being covered with a more upbeat delivery, the melancholia of the track and its reflection on the complexity of human relationships isn’t entirely lost among trumpets, percussion and beefed-up instrumentation. Morriss is showing some real balls covering such a cherished Shins track, risking a thorough fist-shaking from the self-righteous indie upper echelons.
¶ The spur for his second album was described by Morriss as “that moment when you’ve just turned off the light and everything remains semi-lit for a split second”. However, this melancholia or generally unsettling force acting on a post-Bluetones Morriss may very well bring about his second coming as a musician. (http://www.silentradio.co.uk/)
¶ The discography of The Bluetones, an English indie rock band, consists of six studio albums, six compilation albums, one live album, three extended plays (EPs), twenty singles and four video releases.
¶ Memory Muscle was the debut solo album by The Bluetones vocalist Mark Morriss, released on May 26, 2008 on Fullfill Records.
Morris at Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hog/94715929/
By Andrew D. Sweeney
Posted on March 23, 2014
¶ I have been looking forward to “A Flash Of Darkness” ever since the project was announced (and funded through Pledge Music) as I have been a fan of Mark Morriss’ music since the Bluetones’ debut album back in 1996. I haven’t always loved each and every song that The Bluetones released, but, on the whole, don’t believe they ever made a bad record (far from it), plus Mark’s first solo album, “Memory Muscle”, back in 2008, was an excellent effort too. Being familiar with pretty much everything Mark has ever released, I can therefore make the bold assertion that this is one of the best pieces of work that Mark has produced, either solo or as part of his previous group. It has the intelligence, the immediately likeable qualities and the high standard of songwriting of The Bluetones’ best output, but — being a solo record — has a little more space to let the individual songs shine than perhaps a Bluetones album, usually with a fuller, denser sound, would have allowed. In short, it’s a really great collection of catchy, enjoyable songs and proves that there is life beyond the now defunct Bluetones for their talented singer-songwriter.
¶ There simply isn’t a weak track on the album, but I will attempt to pick out of some my favourite tracks from this superb album. Chiming bells, whistling and the hint of the wild west kicks off the album, with its title track’s dark lyrics over a Latin-tinted, stop-start score providing a top-notch first track. “Consuela” is a slice of perfect, driving, shimmering indie-pop which, I’d imagine, is nigh on impossible to dislike. “It’s Hard To Be Good All Time” opens up with the kind of winding guitar riff that was the highlight of many Bluetones songs, but is an understated minor key gem, with a classy, dramatic reverb-soaked chorus. “Low Company” is nothing short of magnificent, a composition that starts quietly and builds into a powerful, beautiful monster of a song. The excellent, upbeat “Life Without F(r)iction” is one of the closest things here to a Bluetones song, perhaps not coincidentally so as it features Adam Devlin on guitar, as does “Space Cadet”, another fine Bluetones-esque track. The final song on the album, “Sleep Song” is another brilliant composition, both mighty and beauteous, that has echoes of Morriss’ former band.
¶ All-in-all, this is a truly wonderful album and will delight Bluetones fans who were sad about the demise of the band. Mark and Gordon Mills, together with some special guests (including Matt Berry, playing Harmonium on Mark’s decent cover of The Shins’ “Pink Bullets”) have given superb, inspired and accomplished performances with a range of songs eclectic enough to make the whole album both interesting and fulfilling. ¶ The lyrics are clever, sometimes touching, sometimes funny, but always very human. A special mention must be made for the cover, which features creatures either similar or identical to the evil forest folk from South Park. The cutesy cartoon animals are slightly more sinister than they first appear on the front cover… examine all of the art carefully; it’s a good metaphor for the music within the album. “A Flash Of Darkness” may have been an album Morriss approached with self-confessed uncertainty and his first without the safety net of his Bluetones day job, but it’s one that cements his credentials as a solo artist and reassures fans everywhere that something they loved hasn’t ended and may, in fact, be back and better than ever before.
RingMaster 24/02/2014; Score: 9/10
Music Scramble; Feb 28;
By yekimmikey; Score: 8/10
|Mark Morriss — A Flash of Darkness (2014)|