Album review by KevW
In the late 80s and early 90s, New Zealand's Flying Nun records were the Kiwi equivalent to UK labels such as Postcard, Creation and Sarah records, with a roster that focused on the emergent indie scene and contained bands such as The Chills and The Clean. Bailter Space (or Bailterspace if you prefer, they accept either) weren't label misfits (in fact they included a member of The Clean amongst their ranks) but their sound was a more robust form of space rock, taking in elements of shoegaze and heavy drones. They were hit and miss. For every great single (see 'Retro') there was an average one (see 'Shine'). So emerging after more than a decade since their last album (barring compilations) has time given them the chance to weed out the average leaving more of the sublime?
In short: sadly not. 'Strobosphere' is not so much a bad album as a staggeringly average one. The good news is that age hasn't mellowed them. They guitars are loud, the songs aim for the dissonant space rock we're hoping for, but the end product is nearer to a sludgy dirge than anything astronomical. This isn't the hit and miss Bailter Space of old, this is a band pushing all the right buttons but lacking that vital ingredient: tunes. 'Strobosphere' doesn't have highlights, or particularly low ones. It's all just OK, and OK isn't quite good enough. 'No Sense' and 'Blue Star' are monotone drones in search of a melody. The closest we come to anything you could refer to as single material is the reasonably memorable grunge of 'Live By The Ocean' or the basic riffing of the title-track.
As a fan of Baiter Space this all feels like a let down, an anticlimax. Maybe given time the forgettable layers of murky guitar with peel away to uncover some shining nuggets of gold hidden amongst the directionless thrashing. But if a dozen or so listens have so far revealed little of interest, is it worth panning further in the hope that something will glint and catch your eye? It's good to have Bailer Space back, particularly as they didn't achieve the success they maybe deserved the first time around. Yet whoever sent out the memo forgot to include the part about bringing some songs with them. If you're new to the band, ignore 'Strobosphere' and check out a best of. Sadly there's little here to capture the imagination.
To download 'Blue Star' for free head here
Bailter Space's website
Buy the album
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