ANDY BELL – ” Flicker “

Posted: February 11, 2022 in MUSIC
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Andy Bell’s second solo album is a sprawling double, covering neo-psych, dream pop, psychedelic folk, and all sorts of other sumptuous 60s songcraft across its eighteen tracks. You’ll likely know Andy Bell from his time with Ride and/or Oasis, but those with their finger on the pulse will have noticed that he’s actually been pretty busy with his own projects these past few years. ‘Flicker’ continues the fine run of LPs he’s released as Andy Bell and/or GLOK. This sprawling album proves a good summation of the sounds Bell has cultivated with both projects. 

There’s talk of summertime sweetness, exploring new ground, classicist psych pop, and offering a modern update to the sounds of times gone by. Indeed, the Ride/Oasis guitarist has had some of his most productive years recently. We’ve seen plenty of records of both the music Bell issues under his own name and his techno-tinged GLOK output land in our stockroom since the latter emerged in 2019 with the ‘Dissident’ LP. It’s an impressive work rate, particularly when you consider that Ride are a going concern once more.

2020’s ‘The View From Halfway Down’, the first Andy Bell solo full-length, was a shimmering psych-pop delight. The Ride style stuck in the album’s shoegazing hazes, a generally lush sound captured that same summertime sweetness of The Stone Roses in ‘Waterfall’ mode, and one also heard a bit of Beach Boys-esque harmonisation poking through at points. More than anything, though, you got the sense that Bell was allowing tracks like ‘Love Comes In Waves’ to unfurl with leisurely ease. This music was the fruits of someone working at no pace but their own, squirrelled away in a modest studio with a few effects pedals and loop tracks. 

With ‘Flicker’, the follow-up to ‘The View From Halfway Down’, Bell gently nudges the edges of this approach. As track titles such as ‘Way Of The World’ and ‘Gyre And Gimble’ indicate, ‘Flicker’ maintains a lackadaisical charm throughout that it very much shares with its predecessor. There’s plenty of pleasant psychedelic panache throughout the album as well – the gauzy wobble of lead single ‘Something Like Love’, for instance, is as primetime as anything we found on ‘The View From Halfway Down’.

‘Flicker’ is a lengthy album with more than twice as many tracks as ‘The View From Halfway Down’. This is not only a testament to the purple patch that Bell appears to be in at the moment – it also indicates how much musical ground he was seeking to cover. ‘Flicker’ may not be an LP of strident experimentations or sonic about-faces, but it does find Bell leading listeners, almost without us noticing, into sonic realms he spent less time in on ‘The View From Halfway Down’

Some of those regions neighbour Bell’s core sound. Specifically, the 1960s loom large here. The reverse-phase sound scaping that heralds the album is a classic psych trick, one which finds further voice in the shapeshifting ‘The Looking Glass’; there’s a quixotic curiosity to the aforementioned ‘Gyre And Gimble’, for instance, which harks to Syd Barrett; speaking of classic pop, many a Beatles devotee would have been proud to come up with ‘She Calls The Tune’ or ‘This Is Our Year’. Other tracks bring some of GLOK’s kosmische steez into play, with synthetic pulses backboning ‘It Gets Easier’ and ‘Jenny Holzer B Goode’

The sense that ‘The View From Halfway Down’ was the work of one curious mind carries through to ‘Flicker’ not by the new LP offering looping guitar spools, but in the way that this record inverts those classicist strains to reference more modern touchstones. There are more than a couple of points here when the layered, lightly groovy instrumentals line Bell up alongside LA Priest and Tame Impala, two artists who are similarly expert at harnessing the music of times gone by. 

By tightening the screws from the pleasant wanderings of ‘The View From Halfway Down’, Bell has been able to maintain that album’s charm on ‘Flicker’ while also serving up some of his most sumptuous songcraft.

Thanks Norman Records

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