Baz Francis – ‘Face That Launched A Thousand Shipwrecks’ (Magic Cat Records) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Ben Hughes   
Monday, 08 May 2017 04:30

Baz Francis coverWhat’s square in shape, plastic in material, power pop flavoured and like a Magic Eight Ball album but not quite? It’s only the debut solo album from Baz Francis innit! It’s no secret that Über Rock have been big fans of the man with a power pop plan since day one, and we are always excited to receive the happy go lucky tunes that the Magic Eight Ball singer/songwriter sends our way. Recorded at M.A.D. Studios in Swansea with Lewis John at the helm, ‘Face That Launched A Thousand Shipwrecks’ is Baz’s first foray into solo territory and a chance to sail unchartered musical waters as well as previously ventured shores.

 

So, how does a Baz Francis solo album differ from a Magic Eight Ball album, I hear you cry? Well, I’m not really sure it does to be honest. While there is a definite toning down of the distorted guitars that were so prevalent on the previous two Magic Eight Ball albums, the usual poptastic songwriting suss is as intact as ever. There is no drastic change of musical direction or very much experimentation going on, so maybe this album is just a place for musical ideas not intended for Magic Eight Ball to reside.

 

A more, laid back acoustic approach is the order of the day here, this is evident from the off on dreamy opener ‘It’s Hard Here (On Planet Earth)’ with its hushed backing vocals and jangly guitars. The lush melodies of the following ‘Don’t Let Me Go On’ continue the theme, reminding this listener of the earliest demos and EPs the man first sent my way back in 2011.

 

There is still a classic Brit Pop feel to several songs but not the stadium rock style, full sound that Magic Eight Ball have veered towards recently. As always, there is still diversity within the pop flavoured melodies that Baz delivers. The laid back ‘Standing On Your Shoulders’ with its sweet vocal harmonies, has a Mansun quality to it that sits well. The acoustic ‘Darken My Door’ is introspective beauty and almost forlorn in delivery and feel.

 

‘Revenge Of The Animal Kingdom’ builds with twangy, almost spaghetti western style guitars as Baz recounts a tale of the spider and the fly in hushed tones, to an epic sounding chorus and a frantic sounding heavy guitar section that appears from nowhere. Great stuff and one track that is definitely a little bit ‘out there’ compared to his previous material.

 

 

The influence of Baz’s musical heroes is still ever present throughout this album. Yes, if you love the writing of James Dean Bradfield and Donnie Vie then there is much for you to enjoy. Glorious strings lift the acoustic picked ‘Murder Dancing’ beyond its initial, fragile and beautiful state to a higher musical plain. And the Beatles-esque ‘Bird On A Wire’ certainly brings out the influence of a certain former Enuff Z’nuff frontman, piano-led balladry at its finest methinks.

 

The infectious melody of ‘Pulling The Other One’ is as commercial as you can get, one of those instant Baz compositions that screams “potential hit single”, as strummed acoustic and dreamy vocals make the listener close their eyes and drift away with the summer sunshine. Mighty fine indeed.

 

With lyrical themes of, to quote the man himself, “animal rights and human wrongs”, ‘Face That Launched A Thousand Shipwrecks’ is choc-a-bloc full of lazyand laid back, summer grooves to entice and excite your senses. With the man getting more introspective than ever before, whether it’s sparse, picked acoustics with lush harmonies you’re after, piano led balladry or just well written songs that have the ability to lift you up when you’re feeling down, you are in for a treat with this first solo offering.

 

‘Face That Launched A Thousand Shipwrecks’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.

 

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