Playback St Louis (website) - 2004

Bluebottle Kiss: Come Across
(In Music We Trust)

We were thisclose to getting amazing Aussie rockers to town last month. Ah well…maybe it’s for the best. Let Come Across, the band’s fifth album (second to be released in the States), really sink in and take hold, and then call ’em back to the Midwest when there’s an audience clamoring to see them.

At least, that’s how it should be. Come Across is truly an amazing album, breathtaking and magical, poetic and rocking. As they did on last year’s Revenge Is Slow, BBK manage to incorporate strings and literary lyrics into their cacophony of sounds to create a brand of rock that is at once fresh, familiar, and richly woven. Opening the disc is the slow “Scouthall,” which ends with the perfect realization: “When I see her I’ll have something to say/Yeah, I will think of something to say/When I see her I’ll have something to say/I’ll probably just look the other way.” On “Everything Begins and Ends at Exactly the Right Time,” vocalist Jamie Hutchings (other band members include Ben Fletcher, Simon Fuhrer, and Ben Grounds) assures us of the small consolation named by the title.

With his charming Aussie accent, Hutchings speaks the intro to “Last Playboy in Town.” Spoken/sang from the point-of-view of a womanizer with way too much self-confidence, the song comes off much more impressive than similarly themed tunes by lesser bands. “Slow Train to a Comfy Jail” is a meandering ride through the countryside. “Set these plastic handcuffs on fire,” Hutchings croons, “I’ll take a slow train to a comfy jail/where the only thing left is desire/Do you want to come home?” Even love is new in the hands of these songwriting masters; the piano-driven “Can I Keep You?” begins with these words of poetry: “The blood in your veins has turned into red wine/and your spit is champagne/your sweat the River Rhine.”

By far, the longest lasting visual from the album is presented in the opening line of “So Slow”: “Woke to find the wind’s come up/and it’s raining fire trucks.” An anguished guitar line sets a melancholy tone as a couple tries to hold on to what’s slipping away. Lyrically, this song’s a gem: Hutchings paints a picture of the seasons turning, the heat slipping away, as metaphor for the relationship. A slide guitar, lazy yet pointed, and female backing vocals add a beguiling character to “Sisters Head On”; the song itself, while beautiful, turns out to be a morose tale of two middle-aged sisters who die in a head-on collision.

The poetry continues into the haunted, seven-minute saga, “Cross Purpose,” as “a windowed mother sweeps/a loveless daughter weaves,” waiting for the son/brother who left in search of riches, but never returns. “Crawling With Ants” is a more upbeat song, both lyrically and musically, in which a man mentally revisits the town—and girl—of his youth. Closing out the disc is “Ministry of Fear,” another in a recent spate of rock songs about present-day society’s state of high alert. The song builds to a crescendo with a chorus of women’s voices as Hutchings’ voice rises to be heard.

It’s a slow, textured build, like the album itself, growing on you until it suddenly hits you: there’s nowhere else you’d rather be. Bluebottle Kiss invite you to Come Across and explore their other-worldly richness.

—Laura Hamlett




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