Urban side: Stronger Than Life itself
Here we go with another obscure band from Gloucestershire, and another song with no video up on YouTube. I saw This Picture live in Gloucester Park once. Seeing local bands at the park during the fortnight that the fairground came to town was something of an annual ritual. I think This Picture may well have been at the last one I went to. The image of them that still lingers is the long flowing hair of the singer, and the fact that on occasion he used one of those little microphones that are normally used for harmonicas rather than vocals. Obviously there was some sound difference that he wanted to make - I don't recall noticing any difference.
You'll see that the picture of this single labels itself as an EP - yet there are only two tracks on it - it's obviously just been scaled down from the 12" version. If they've taken the time to knock-off the other tracks from the track listing on the back cover, they could've knocked "EP" off the front too. That's just lackadaisical, and already puts me off. The other thing that set alarm bells ringing is that instead of calling them the a-side and b-side they've been labelled as Urban and Rural! Maybe some kind of concept single idea is going here, and that's set my pretentious senses tingling.
Stronger Than Life Itself is on the Urban side of the disc. It's a rock sound, with a menacing rumble from the bass which keeps things together and tight. It's big and epic with vocals so very, very earnest. They're almost clamouring to be renamed "U2 Two". Despite all of this, and against my better judgement, I actually rather liked this. This came as a surprise to me as I went in expecting it to be boring as well as pretentious. They do actually rise to the challenge of the big sound that they've laid down for themselves, and although there's no real hook or catchiness to the song, Stronger Than Life Itself out to be quite good.
Over on the Rural side of the record Blacker Than is a gentler affair. What did you expect from the Rural side - something raucous? No they've played to obvious theme and gone for the softer less rockier sound. It's wistful and yearning in sound, with an autumnal feel. The melody is piano led, and when the guitars do coming in they are obviously acoustic. It's still got that U thing going on.Talking of going on this song lasts much longer than it needs to the repeating piano/guitar motif whilst not unpleasant to start with eventually starts to grate and get on my nerves. If it had finished a minute or a minute and a half sooner I'd come away with a more positive image, but as it is, any sympathy I felt towards it had been worn away and replaced with irritation.
Better than I expected, but still not quite breaking out into greatness.
Next time some odd dance nonsense...