Returning to the fore with their first album since 2011's Anti-Gravity, The Blue Aeroplanes remain unmoved from the arty, indie nonchalance that has earned them widespread cult status. From the offset, pummeling drums collide with menacing strokes of the guitar, whilst lead singer Gerard Langley professes menacingly throughout.
The band's founder member, and poet, unsurprisingly chooses his lyrics carefully and delivers his thoughts with uncompromising sincerity. Chunky fretwork often lays the foundations for Langley's vocals, which challenge bullshit imagery with a dour sense of humour.
'Dead Tree! Dead Tree!' is a prime example of this, naysaying the idea that all literature has to have a hidden meaning through the immediately notable chorus hook of "dead tree! dead tree! it isn't a symbol of anything, it's just a dead tree". Naturally, this points toward the punk spirit that The Blue Aeroplanes have built a reputation upon, and one that prevented them from ever recording a Peel session on account of being 'too rock 'n' roll'.
The classic indie jangle takes precedent throughout 'Here Is The Heart Of All Wild Things' (above), arguably the finest track on the record. Delicate harmonies echo the words of the band's frontman whilst constantly intertwining fretwork adds tension, right up until the point of attack during the song's heavy as hell conclusion.
Ever the non-conformists, Welcome, Stranger! also manages to squeeze in an Aeroplanes interpretation of Shanks & Bigfoot's 1999 garage banger 'Sweet Like Chocolate', complete with additional lyrics and a rip-roaring live potential.
For a band whose debut album arrived some 33 years ago, there's a serious amount of contemporary ideas on display. These are channelled best through thought provoking lyrics and no holds barred musicianship, signalling that The Blue Aeroplanes are still well and truly flying high.