After a decade of uncertainty, Adam Franklin has been very busy the past couple of years. The former frontman of Swervedriver has followed up last year's successful reunion tour with his second solo album, Spent Bullets. The tour seems to have inspired him, for this is a very strong record.
Swervedriver were one of the many "shoegazer" bands seemingly lost in translation from Britain to the US. I guess we were a little too preoccupied with hair metal and grunge back in the day to recognize this great music. But what a glorious sound those Creation bands made. The difference between Swervedriver and acts such as Ride and My Bloody Valentine was their acknowledged Stooges and Sonic Youth influences. The punk edge added some serious punch to their hypnotic sound.
On Spent Bullets, Adam Franklin simultaneously looks back at his former band's style, and forward with a very direct approach in places. The opening track, "Surge" illustrates this perfectly. With his vocals buried in the swirling guitar strums that provide the melody of this pure pop confection, Franklin is clearly in his element.
"Bolts Of Melody," which was the title of his first (2007) solo recording, slows things down considerably. It is a pensive, narcotic track, with some great guitar work complementing his vocals. This is a mood he sustains, with "Autumn Leaf," "Winter Girls," and "Big Sur." Then the drugs kick in. Well, maybe not, but the final three tracks: "Champs," "End Credits," and "Two Dollar Dress," are certainly reminiscent of classic '89-'94 era Brit music.
For fans of those halcyon days, Spent Bullets is highly recommended. It is fitting that Adam Franklin will be appearing on The Church's upcoming tour of the US. I for one am definitely looking forward to seeing him, and listening to Spent Bullets makes for a great pre-show cocktail.