Review: Coastal – Crumble Blue EPTweet
Having completed what he describes as a loose trilogy of suicidal summer records with last year’s ‘Coastal’, Belfast musician Paul J. Fox returns with another melancholic trip through heartache and oblivion on this latest EP. ‘Crumble Blue’ is a retro run through the dark and narcotic-dulled pain of love, awash with shimmering tremolo and the sunnier surf music themes of automobiles, girls and the sea loosely tying it all together. Ploughing a similar Phil Spector-ish furrow to the likes of Cults and Girls, the often-times stark instrumentation and lo-fi production suits the mood perfectly with Fox detailing hook-ups and break-ups, both accompanied by self-medication and self-deprecation.
Heart of Tin is typical love song fare – “Love of mine/ It’s fun to think about you all the time” – set to a 60’s surf lilt, laid back and wavering. Black Stars/Flash Cars continues with the same sparse arrangement with washy guitar effects and Fox singing “I’m gonna take a fuckload of tablets/ And stay out of it for a while/ And then I’m gonna sit in Starbucks/ And look of photos of you on my phone”, enthralled by the idea of heartbreak more than the actual thing. It’s a nice line in mocking melodrama, the singer’s tongue wedged firmly into the side of his mouth, here and throughout - “I was a champion/ Now I’m a chump again” he decides finally over a lush high-register harmony.
The 90’s is an interesting retro tune with dramatic sitar-esque guitar work, recalling Supergrass down to the Danny Goffey-style drum rolls. For the first time on the EP the drums sound less like a drum machine and more like an organic kit, as a result making this wistful number stand out from its predecessors. Another interesting prospect follows with Night Moth, a downbeat number where vocals linger then surge from the simple guitar foundation, intermingling with bird-song. “Out of the darkness and loneliness of the world/ Comes nightmares” intone the high vocals, repeating, rising and elongating that final word to eerie effect.
To The End Of… does indeed herald the end of the EP, its chiming intro coming back around to that dreamy 60’s pop style. A touch of Animal Collective can be detected here too before the quiet, restrained instrumental section floats hypnotically by, fading into …still ending, the brief coda where waves lap beneath ambient synth noise. Though the themes contained within the EP may be sombre a counter-balance is found in Fox’s subtly humorous lyrics, with pretty and languid melodies to cushion the melancholy. Crumble Blue is definitely one of the more interesting summer releases, one where darkness tries to gain a foothold but is dispelled by the shimmering instrumentation swelling from beneath.