The Blue Nile - Hats

Album cover

  1. Over The Hillside (5:05)
  2. The Downtown Lights (6:30)
  3. Let's Go Out Tonight (5:16)
  4. Headlights On The Parade (6:16)
  5. From A Late Night Train (4:01)
  6. Seven A.M. (5:09)
  7. Saturday Night (6:27)

Linn, 1989

Beautiful stuff. Like their first album "A Walk Across the Rooftops", this has a simple but completely individual atmosphere. A typical song starts off with a lazy drum beat and a distinctive keyboard-string, then coloured in with laid-back guitar plucking or pizzicato blips, and maybe a distant trumpet. All executed in a manner unlike anyone else. The lyrics are poetic in a simple, understated way, conjuring up a similar sort of urban melancholy to their first album.

The opener "Over the Hillside" gives me pleasant memories of an evening lounging mellowly beside the fells on a school camping trip in the Lake District. The high point of the album is the magnificent "Downtown Lights". The subtle harmonies and instrumental colouring, the dynamic build up towards and through the "neons and cigarettes" section, and the evocation of urban loneliness, combine to bring this close to the perfect song to my ears. "Headlights on the Parade" is hypnotic but uplifting, growing out of a simple one-chord octave riff, while "Let's Go Out Tonight" and "From a Late Night Train" are distant and ghostly. The final two tracks continue in the same vein, some funky blips on "Seven A.M." and a floaty fade-away on "Saturday Night".

Then we waited another seven years before their third...

November 1, 2003

10 out of 10

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