Nick Saloman AKA The Bevis Frond has put out over 25 albums in the last 35 years and for whatever reason he is still passing under the radar and barely qualifies for cult status. Perhaps his genre nouns just don’t fit the bill, yes he is a bit psychedelic but he isn’t all that far out, more down to earth, he isn’t the new Jimi Hendrix but he does do a rather nifty guitar solo on most of his tracks. At the very least he should be recognised as some sort of elder statesman of indie rock. Not quite a grandfather but more a long lost cousin.
The Bevis Frond specialises in the kind of observational lyrics with a moody melancholic vibe that you might find on a Neil Young LP but with the added fuzziness of Dinosaur Jr. This is the kind of music that is perfect to play when you are feeling lonely and unloved and need to be reminded that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, because for all the sadness in the lyrics the counterpoint is that the music is really quite uplifting and there are always a couple of really rocking numbers on every album to help get you back in the mood. Lyrically Nick manages to be profound and meaningful without going too far over the top with flouncy poetry, he is a genuine wordsmith that deserves to be heard.
The line up has been quite stable for a few years now – in the early days Nick played all the instruments himself and produced a slew of lo-fi classics dating back to 1987. There have been other touring line ups but the current combo seems to have settle in place. Adrian Shaw is a great bassist and complements Nick’s lead guitar really well. You would have to be good if you were going to replace Lemmy in Hawkwind, which Ade managed to do very well and even helped to bring the new wave sound to late 70’s Hawkwind. Quite the acheivement really.
This new LP, Little Eden, does not disappoint. Yes it is more of the same, classic alt rock indie guitar sounds with with Nick’s cracked and broken vocals giving as much emotion as it can muster, some might say the vocal style is an acquired taste but one that is well worth acquiring as the rewards are plentiful. He is getting on a bit and the lyrics touch on age, brain fog and death. The middle section has a tryptych on love and lost love starting with ‘Cherry Gardens’ and ending with ‘There’s Always Love’ which is a rather touching acoustic folk song. The whole album stretches to 20 songs, which is impressive for one album and a lot for one sitting, probably designed to fit on a double LP and be taken in bite size chunks one side at a time. It is worth sitting through to the end though as the final track ‘Dreams of Flying’ really does take off. There’s nothing like a ten minute masterpiece to finish an epic journey.
Little Eden is out now of Fire Records. FInd out more on the label page.
Review by Andy Jesse