As the various levels of COVID lockdowns / restrictions were being used by a vast number of acts to finely coiffure their melancholia, John Andrew Frederick, was using the time “to contemplate the beauty of the stars’ expressed via a The Black Watch album that simply oozes an ‘anti pandemic / so what’ sense of jubilation.
Much of this sense of joy comes from the album’s dual pronged attention to dynamism. Tracks such The Nothing That is (the track from where the above lyric is taken), Green Stars, Clouds Departing and I’m Not Hung Up are perfect and traditional Frederick.
All rounded mid 90’s Edwyn Collins vocal intonations, mixed with an insistent juxtaposition of melodies, that simultaneously doff an appreciative cap towards the jangly melodies of indie/sophisti/fuzz pop. It’s very much The Black Watch aesthetic. Very much the musical theatre they excel in.
If the above sound has an energetic sense of perfectly flighty, the remainder of the album moves towards a more muscular energy. The Lonesome Death of Mary Hansen, All I Know (Is That The Moon Is Beautiful) and Such Like Friendly Demons all move the sound towards defiantly darker textures that place one foot firmly into the spacious atmospherics of post-punk, whilst ensuring they never swamp Fredericks sense of tune. It’s a sound reminiscent of the brilliance of the janglier end of the early Julian Cope work, before he disappeared into the recesses of a manic Druid’s armpit.
This is the 20th album by The Black Watch in their various guises and it is testament to the absolute brilliance of John Andrew Frederick, as the constant core of the act, that they can still sound so incredibly vital with each release.