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Andy Bell - The View From Halfway Down (Album Review)

Tuesday, 20 October 2020 Written by Graeme Marsh

It’s taken Andy Bell 50 years of living to get around to releasing his debut solo album, with Ride’s recent resurgence delaying his bow further. A lot of terrible things have happened as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, but Bell finding the time during lockdown to finally complete some unfinished songs was not one of them.

“This album is about sounds, a listening experience,” he claims, and it’s an accurate account of ‘The View From Halfway Down’. Elements of Bell’s electronic dalliances with GLOK are on show, but also you can pick out guitar tones left over from his time with the criminally overlooked Hurricane #1.

The emphasis here may largely be on sounds rather than songs, but going against the grain is the opener and lead single Love Comes In Waves, a delicious slab of psychedelic dream-pop with sugary melodies, delightful harmonies and a strong core. 

The excellent six minute Skywalker is even better, as its mesmeric motorik beat weaves a hypnotic spell for a heady mix of sublime electronica woven around a constant bass hook. Cherry Cola provides a shorter, poppier moment set to finger-picked guitar.

Elsewhere, though, you can see what Bell means. Indica is built on a brilliant groove that recalls the Charlatans, with warped psychedelia kicking in among loops and samples, while closer Heat Haze On Weyland Road takes electronic blips and puts them at the centre of another hypnotic experience pinned down by a moody bassline. The mind-bending instrumental Aubrey Drylands Gladwell twists this way and that for one of the more obvious sonic experiments.

Much like Mark Gardener’s oft-forgotten solo effort ‘These Beautiful Ghosts’, ‘The View From Halfway Down’ has some quite excellent moments. On an individual basis, the songs can’t quite conjure the magic the pair have repeatedly found when in tandem. But really, how many artists can? Not even John Lennon and Paul McCartney, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check out their solo stuff. Bell proves with this release that even at the ripe old age of 50, he is worth following wherever he goes.

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