Morcheeba – Blackest Blue
Morcheeba’s tenth studio effort is a testament to their stylistic consistency and an homage to their classic funk-rock roots.
The past 15 months’ forced breather from tireless touring has given the south English band an occasion to truly shine in the studio. It is well worth listening to the full album in order: as in the old days of concept records, the track arrangement is well thought-out and the production is a pleasure to hear.
There are hints of Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain in Ross Godfrey’s riffs and solos, particularly in single Killed Our Love. A banger with a hook-laden riff and earworm chorus, it suffers slightly from some awkward rhymes. such as “driving to the station, in devastation” or “compression with sharpness, so heartless”. The piercing synths and double-tracked guitars in Cut My Heart Out are reminiscent of space rock band Ozric Tentacles, with the added bonus of a groovy backbeat and attractive vocals. As on the first track, it relies a little too much on gut-wrenching bass at the expense of melodic originality.
Skye Edwards’s handsome vocals caress the soul throughout, aside from a tasteful break in the slick instrumental Sulphur Soul. She shares the lead with singer-songwriter Brad Barr in the retro piano ballad Say It’s Over. The stripped-back and unassuming tune stands out amid the rich canvas of electronic sounds on the rest of the album. “Between that rock and hard place, let’s make a start at goodbye,” the pair sings in deeply relatable resignation at a love gone sour.
Some jazz influences creep in with Namaste, a haunting track with elements of musical theatre in the call-and-response vocals and a surprising structure. Its lyrics are conceptual and full of musical terminology, adding to the atmosphere rather than transmitting any particular message: “Let go of staccato a short and sharp pronto, paying day in day out, gangsta soprano together amigos,” Edwards croons.
Oh Oh Yeah is a cool ode to the soothing properties of smoking weed. It truly evokes the feeling, as the silky-smooth vocal melody traces the shape of a smoke trail rising to the ceiling in a dimly lit room. The Moon is an exceptionally catchy classic rock tune. It deserves its role of title track: the evocative lyric “blackest blue” is impossible to miss in the second verse. Every instrument stands out with masterful production.
The grand finale Edge of the World features vocals by Duke Garwood. Like the opener, it is less subtle than the other material, a mish-mash of 80s electro, space-rock synths and funky rhythm guitar. It is not the easiest song to grasp, but an effective conclusion to a memorable album nonetheless.
Blackest Blue is released on 14th May 2021. For further information or to order the album visit Morcheeba’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Killed Our Love here: