THE BEVIS FROND, REVISITED (2024): Turning up the heat, refining the focus

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Maybe We Got It Wrong
THE BEVIS FROND, REVISITED (2024): Turning up the heat, refining the focus

In 2016 we wrote about Britain's Bevis Frond – the vehicle for the multi-talented Nick Saloman – but were about three decades late.

By that time Saloman/Frond from Walthamstow, London had released about 25 studio albums on his own Woronzow label. And there were off-shoot projects (the Von Trap Family) and live albums.

Most of these had been fairly obscure – despite critical acclaim – but a swag had become available through a reissue programme so it was timely to point a finger in their direction.

And we kept pointing, to the somewhat indifferent We're Your Friends, Man (2019) and the terrific double album Little Eden (2021) which was in our best of that year list.

After a short absence, Saloman returns with another double album Focus on Nature which typically roams from social observation in the manner of Ray Davies past full frontal Hendrix rock guitar, folksy songs, psychedelic rock (think a post-punk Blue Oyster Cult) and more.

bevisIt is mostly closer to the Pixies and Pavement than you might expect from a man who turned 70 last year and favours the check-shirt and long hair look of Neil Young in '72.

From the scorching rock opener Heat there is a sense of urgency, denial and anger (“I'm so tired of scary ecological forecasts . . . we're all going down in a blaze . . . it's all about money . . . everybody talking about heat”) followed by the title track and the angst-rock of God's Gift.

Saloman is an incendiary guitarist (Heat is a six-string flamethrower), a smart thinker (Vitruvian Man references the Leonardo Da Vinci drawing with the lines “I'm in the round, I'm in the square . . . I'm everywhere) and can craft memorable alt.pop with ease (the wonky Leb Off).

He holds a mirror to these dysfunctional times, the rapacious assault on the landscape, misguided thinking about progress (Wrong Way Round) but also questions himself about queueing in the rain just to “see a shitty band” (the Lemonheads-like Here For the Other One).

Here For the Other One
 

There's Saloman's characteristically provocative pessimism alongside lines which skewer – himself as much as anonymous others – with wit and insight (Happy Wings) or a melancholy (the reminiscence on Mr Fred's Disco which rolls out like Neil Young/Crazy Horse jam).

Focus on Nature is a generous – 19 songs – double album which sears off the vinyl with focused energy, wah-wah when required and bristles with great, stand-alone songs which sound fresh and furious while working within recognisable parameters.

Can't wait for the doco about Bevis Frond/Saloman which is in the works.

It must run for hours!

.

You can hear this album at Spotify here, not up at bandcamp yet.


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