The Bevis Frond
The Bevis Frond — in effect, Nick Saloman — has been at it for close to two decades, quietly and steadily putting out what amounts to an impressive and rich catalogue of his own particular brand of alternatively styled rock. Not unlike Bob Mould’s, say, or even J. Mascis’ sidestepping of the “conventional” rules of his vocation, Saloman has a superb knowledge of classic songwriting coupled with a unique and individual approach that easily separates him from the majority of his competitors and colleagues.
Saloman’s sound is often regarded as a typically British one, and he is quite often compared to the mad genius of Syd Barrett. And certainly, there are enough things on here that earns comparisons to both the first Pink Floyd album and to Barrett’s solo albums. Lyrically, especially, in his poignant, rich and baroque-ish imagery, but also musically, as for example in the lovely “The Speed of Light.” Still, one should not overlook the influences of the ’80s counter-culture “indie” rock, with the aforementioned Bob Mould being an obvious reference-point and soul mate. Elsewhere, there are traces of the quiet and comforting psychedelic country of American Beauty-era Grateful Dead in songs like “Early Riser” and “Portobello Man.”
All influences and contemporaries aside, what really stands out is the pure melodic thrill of it all. In a better world, half of the songs on this album would’ve been hit singles — they’re surely both accessible and open-ended enough to be appealing to a large audience. The politics of the music industry, however, will never allow for such a thing to happen, and maybe that’s for the best? As it is, Saloman continues to put out albums of brilliant music, to be enjoyed by those lucky enough to have discovered him and his remarkable career. It’s our gain.
Woronzow Records: http://www.woronzow.co.uk