This is a review of "Smiles" recorded by Blue Sky Project. The review was written by Chris Woolford in 2007.
Leeds’ latest progressive-alt-rock band, Blue Sky Project, show plenty of promise with this record yet generally fall just short in delivering the quality goods expected of a band fronted by enigmatic singer / songwriter / guitarist / promoter / label boss Lewis Denby.
Despite using a reliable alt-rock-grunge format (see Bush, the Pumpkins, or perhaps closer to home a more straight laced This Et Al) things unfortunately get off to a ropey start with a clichéd blues-based funk guitar riff.
The song eventually finds a simplistic yet elegant verse build which demonstrates the potential of Denby’s voice and the impressive, yet refrained, bass style of Anthony Wright.
However all goes wrong again when the promise shown dives back into the cheese of the opening and, despite a brave attempt at a poignant chorus, an amateurish power-chord grunge guitar (is that an Argos amp?) only makes things worse.
Thankfully for Blue Sky Project they rescue the song by nailing an impressive post-rock build back into the chorus. Yet blow it all by going back to that horrible riff to finish things off. Very close boys but no cigar. More quality control needed please. Trust me, that riff doesn’t sound like Hendrix.
Next song Refresh follows in much the same way (without the cheesy riffs, yay!) and includes an interesting shouty-disco At The Drive In/Shut Your Eyes like middle eight which again shows off the creative potential of a band who unfortunately just seem to be trying a little too hard.
Closer Rosen again follows Blue Sky Project’s now signature format (delayed guitar pickings, simple bass/drums, passionate vocals, crashing power chord chorus) and even opens with an intro using a very familiar sounding angular guitar structure over pounding, rolling drums. Hmmm, are you listening O Fracas?
Overall Blue Sky Project feel like a mish-mash of a band. It’s clear that the musicians within it are talented yet, as a unit, they appear to be taking their influences far too literal.
Songs with strong potential feel forced into certain directions for the sake of ticking a box in the ‘how to be a cool/credible’ manual. Perhaps instead Blue Sky Project should be relying on the strength of the talent within the band to make the much more organic music which is clearly screaming to get out. Hopefully this is just a small blip at the start of an interesting few years.