No apologies for two albums sharing the number 2 spot.
I always hold these two close even though they're poles apart.
First up is The Blue Nile's exquisitely mournful 'Hats':
A Love Theme for the Wilderness seems a perfect title for the emotional hinterland that The Blue Nile seem to lay claim to, both for adolescents and, particularly, middle aged men. I've leant against many a balding fortysomething quietly weeping into the sleeve of his business suit at a BN gig. This music signifies love and loss; the disappointments of underachievement and the alienation of late night city life... its monochrome, lonesome streets are familiar as those trod much earlier by Frank Sinatra when he articulated a similar obsessive preoccupation with urban detachment and late night ennui frequented 'In the Wee Small Hours'.
Unrequited love seems key to these songs. I don't hear much genuine engagement. I sense much sexual frustration. Maybe this record should have been sponsored by Kleenex rather than Linn...
Yup, a love theme for the wilderness, 'Hats' was, and remains; a triumph; a soundtrack for melancholics (mainly male I'm sure) who haunt the early hours.
There's a strange alchemy as Buchanan's richly imperfect tones warm the ice cold synths and programmed drums. He gives passion to the bloodless synth pads that bejewel the songs like rain soaked streets, replacing the robust, clunky, chunky arrangements of their excellent debut with something sonically sublime, smooth and quietly majestic. Wistful trumpets sing out like lonely, lofty lotharios in search of some kind of worldly connection; the word elegiac is much overused regarding music but seems apt here.
There's a mournful majesty to the melancholy that, for me, is unmatched in modern music.
There will be no musical clips from here on in...
If you don't own 'Hats' I suggest that you get the recently remastered version here.