The Bluetones: Mark Morriss (vocals); Adam Devlin (6- & 12-string guitars); Scott Morriss (bass, vocals); Eds Chesters (drums, percussion).
Additional personnel: Caroline Lavelle (cello); Dan Crompton (harmonica); Mac Felton (Clavinet).
If anything, the Bluetones' debut album, Expecting to Fly, is too accomplished. Like their idols, the Stone Roses, the band has made a first album that is assured, low-key, and subtly charming. Unlike the Roses, they haven't made a consistently engaging album, but that isn't a major flaw, given the abundant hooks and melodies on Expecting to Fly. Lacking the dance inclinations of the Stone Roses, the band instead concentrates on perfectly crafted guitar pop songs, occasionally stretching out into long jams, like the opening "Talking to Clarry," which is too close to "Breaking into Heaven" for comfort. Nevertheless, when the Bluetones kick into a small, hook-laden song like the chiming, infectious "Bluetonic," they are at their peak. Most of the album has gems like "Bluetonic," whether it's the wonderful "Slight Return" or the liquid riffs of "Things Change," but the record could have used more sonic variety. Where their pre-album singles had several lovely acoustic numbers, there is an over-reliance on loud, fuzzy -- but certainly not heavy -- guitars that give the album an unfortunate sameness. However, that feeling begins to fade away as each of the song's melodies comes into focus with repeated listens. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Rolling Stone (9/5/96, p.62) - 3 Stars - Good - "...an accomplished and varied collection of guitar-based tunes with a solid charm rooted in the best traditions of English alternative pop--no more, but certainly no less..."
Entertainment Weekly (8/23-8/30/96, p.125) - "...Conjuring a hybrid of once-influential forebearers--the textured thoughtfulness of Aztec Camera with the hip-swaying buoyancy of the Stone Roses--accusation and introspection entwine in their sprightly, energized odes." - Rating: B+
Melody Maker (12/21-28/96, pp.66-67) - Ranked #19 on Melody Maker's list of 1996's `Albums Of The Year.'
Musician (10/96, p.88) - "...the Bluetones often succeed on intent rather than content....breezy crooner Mark Morriss has a charming, unaffected style....the 'Tones are a smiling Merseybeat rush..."
Q (Magazine) (p.138) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "Their melodic indie pop could hang together well, as chiming, winsome Number 2 hit 'Slight Return' and folky elongation 'The Fountainhead' prove..."