As the former leader of Creation Records' legendary Swervedriver, Adam Franklin’s place in the indie-music pantheon is secure. But don’t count the old chap out just yet, because I Could Sleep For A Thousand Years ranks right up there with the best of his previous band’s work.
I Could Sleep is Franklin’s third solo outing, and it is miles ahead of last year's Spent Bullets. The difference here is that for the first time, Franklin has recorded with his touring band, Bolts Of Melody. The group add so much to the songs that it is really unfair to even classify the album as a solo record. This is a group effort in every sense of the word.
The jingle-jangle guitar is the first thing one notices when hearing I Could Sleep for the first time. Opening cut “Yesterday Has Gone Forever” has that instant classic sound of vintage Big Star, The Raspberries, or even The Records. Big, gloriously strummed guitars over a melody as catchy as any in recent memory are a powerful introduction to the album.
Franklin and company seem to be basking in the joy of pure power-pop here, as tracks like “I Want You Right Now,” and “Sinking Ships” testify. There are some darker cuts mixed in with these crowd-pleasers though. “I’ll Be Yr Mechanic” is reminiscent of some of The Church’s more introspective moments, while “Guerica” glances in Elvis Costello’s general direction.
“God knows I’ve tried to resist ya,” begins the most interesting song on the record, “Lord Help Me Jesus, I’ve Wasted A Soul.” This slow blues number features a number of atmospheric effects, which comment on the troubling lyrics. It reminds me of some of the late Chris Bell’s more naked moments during I Am The Cosmos.
“Take Me To My Leader” closes things out in suitable style. The brief overture that begins the track soon gives way to another clear, ringing pop song full of optimism. Not only have Adam Franklin & Bolts Of Melody emerged with a fantastic album, you get the feeling that they know it. As you listen to this song, and reflect on those that came before, the realization dawns that the old boy has still got a lot of life in him yet.
Adam Franklin’s music works best in a full-band environment, and I Could Sleep For A Thousand Years is an excellent example of the reasons why.