The Proclaimers are back! Instead of having to wait four or even seven years between releases, as fans have in the past, Restless Soul reaches stores only two years following its predecessor. Already available in the British Isles, the disc will be released in North America on September 6th.
On first listen things sound pretty much the same: great harmonies, ringing acoustic guitars, gritty, realistic lyrics, and a driving beat. But from the first track on there is a noticeable difference. The production values are more sophisticated than one has come to expect from a Proclaimers disc.
Strings make sporadic appearances filling out the sound and adding previously absent texture. Previously known for a bare bones, almost in your face approach to their presentation, it feels like they’ve taken a step back from their microphones in an attempt to make a more intimate album.
In keeping with this, the tracks on the disc have a more introspective theme. “When Love Struck You Down”, “Turning Away”, and the title track “Restless Soul” have the brothers turning a microscope on the inner workings of love and motivation. In fact the album as a whole seems preoccupied with the nature of relationships.
From the simple joy of a shared post-coitus moment in “That’s Better Now” and the pleasure of rediscovering the reasons behind a love-in “What I Saw In You”, one gets the feeling that they have set out to write pop love songs for adults. Instead of the more typical juvenile teenage infatuations, this is a celebration of the joys of a lasting love.
Of course not all love can be idyllic. “He Just Can’t” is about the denial a man goes through when he realizes he has crossed the line of no return by beating his wife. “He just can’t face the fact” repeats the refrain over and over again. Simple words that convey complex emotion and one simple fact: abusers just don’t get it.
An examination of love wouldn’t be complete without one good obsessive, bordering on stalking, love song. “Bound For Your Love” is not about stalking, but it shows how we can get so wrapped up in a person that we can’t be apart from them and tend to make fools of ourselves in the process.
Of course not all love is between people. “I’m Gone” is a tongue in cheek peon to the simple pleasure of drinking just one too many on occasion. While lyrics such as “All of my fear and most of my pain ran hand in hand to catch the last train…” are a clear indication of the escapist quality of drinking to excess, the song is also a healthy contrast to the puritanical attitude that having more than two drinks makes you an alcoholic.
For those of you looking for the anthem like songs of the Proclaimers’ past, “D .I. Y.” will fit the bill. D. I. Y. is the British acronym for do it yourself. Here the Reid brothers are instructing all those who either manufacture weapons or send people off to war to just show us how it’s done and kill themselves.
” Warmongers kill yourselves, Demonstrate the power of the product that you’re trying to sell. Gun wavers shoot yourselves, make a big hole in your head with a shiny shell”. “D. I. Y.” Restless Soul, The Proclaimers
Not since Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War” have I heard such a ringing condemnation of both the armament industry and those old people who have no trouble sending people half their age off to die in battle. The sentiment of “maybe there would be less war in the world if those who did the ordering and building actually experienced it” is an old one, but one that bears repetition.
The disc ends with two songs dealing with death and mortality. “Now and Then” is about the brothers’ father who died a couple of years ago. It talks about how once the rawness of new grief wears off one still has moments of regret.
“If I cry, you just smile and sigh, I never said goodbye, I never will”, those lines sum up the spirit of the song; not wanting to forget somebody is one thing, but holding on to grief serves no purpose. It’s also indicative of the nature of the whole album – simple, real emotions served up in a matter of fact manner; as opposed to the melodrama of most pop music.
“One More Down” is about not knowing what comes after we’re done on earth. Everyone has his or her ideas of course, but we will only find out the truth of the matter when we die.
“One more down, some more to go. Then I’ll know or I won’t know. If all the songs I hear you sing are everything or anything.” “One More Down”, Restless Soul, The Proclaimers.
The Proclaimers have always been different from the norm in the world of pop music. In style and substance they have managed to separate themselves from the pack by their unique blend of acoustic music and punk in your face attitude. In North America, at least, they are a refreshing alternative to the generic sounds that predominate on rock and pop charts.
Restless Soul is no exception. If it’s slightly more introspective than previous releases, that’s only to be expected. When musicians who sing with passion and from the heart, as the Reid brothers do, change and grow as people so does their music. Restless Soul is pop music sung by adults for adults.
Restless Soul will hit the shelves of music stores in North America on September 6th and the Reid brothers will be hitting our shores two days later to start their North American tour in Hamilton, Ontario. The first part of their tour will see them travelling down the eastern seaboard, across the mid west in both Canada and the U. S., and ending up in the House of Blues in Los Angeles on October 11th. For a full listing of tour dates check out the gig section of their web site.
Look for an interview with one of the Reid brothers at this web site in the near future.