Steven Lindsay - Kite
The former Big Dish singer’s second album follows a debut that attracted glowing reviews from critics. One questions their sanity; his second, for all its artfulness and lofty good intentions, is dreadful. Only nastiness can fuel vitriol for what is clearly a labour of love but struggling though Lindsay's sterile compositions is a labour in itself. ‘Kite’, a collection of songs with, so the press release claims, the theme of flight sewn into the whole album, sounds like a Habitat store. Chokingly studio-bound, its production – ticking electronic production, gently arpeggiated guitar, synth washes, strings – is cold and uninvolving. Worse, Lindsay’s voice, an overwrought nasal delivery, is, to these ears, nigh on unlistenable. Frankly, someone with poor hearing has told him that this kind of stark musical setting and some cod drama in the singing might get him compared to The Blue Nile. Yeah, right.
Furthermore, there is plenty that truly grates about ‘Kite’. The line “… get up when the bugle sounds again” from opener ‘Put up the Flag’ is, of course, pure larceny and his fellow Scot Roddy Frame will not be best pleased. Lyrically, however, Lindsay’s own efforts indicate why he might want to lift from the more gifted. On the mankind-gone-mad (zzz …) track ‘Metropolis’, he whines about “flights to planet beach”; he also keeps a straight face when he delivers the line “madmen forget their lines in the pleasuredome.” Oh please. Throughout, his lyrical concerns remain humourless, lacking in insight or interest. You know, I even had a second go just to see if he’d caught me in a bad mood or I really had missed the point. But no – ‘Kite’ is a vacuous, vapid piece of work whose minimalist packaging does nothing to colour its lack of content. And the sucker punch ? Lindsay has the ill-informed balls to try a Pixies cover. The way he throttles ‘Monkey Gone to Heaven’ beggars belief and misses the point about that group entirely. While they were inarguable and important, taken out of context, some of their music, frankly, was not … and as much as the albums still stand tall, you wouldn’t want to stick ‘Tony’s Theme’ or ‘Broken Face’ onto a compilation tape, would you ? Likewise, choose their biggest single and you still end up looking a knob. You don’t cover the Pixies. What will he find new meaning in for his next album ? ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ ? ‘Venus in Furs’ ?
If you want to hear formalistic electronic music made by Scots with soul and skill, with a singer second to none, look up ‘Hats’, The Blue Nile’s 1987 masterpiece. Steven Lindsay, with his po-faced, dreary affectations, isn’t fit to lick their boots.