Fans of Oasis and Beady Eye may be interested to hear ‘The Mean Solar Times’ by Barcelona psychedelic rockers Stay, given Andy Bell’s contribution to three songs on the album.
Released through Minneapolis label ‘Picture in my Ear’, and featuring Britpop guru Owen Morris (Oasis/The Verve) on production duties, the 5th studio album from the Catalans is a rich and potent mix of 70’s psychedelia, 90’s Britpop, oriental and funk influences, intensified by frontman Jordi Bel’s youthful vocals.
Having gained something of a cult following in their native Spain, the band have carved out a niche as one of the go to support acts around, opening for the likes of Ocean Colour Scene, Beady Eye and The Pretty Things, as well as appearing at festivals such as Primavera Sound in their home city.
Vintage tones, resplendent melodies, intricate instrumentals and organ-guitar interplay draw obvious comparisons with the likes of Big Star, Traffic and The Charlatans, as the band meander from the slow, jovial and intricate to the heavy, emotionally enveloping, demonstrating a flair and character that places above the level of simple pastiche.
Opener ‘Pinkman’, with Bell on guitar, sounds distinctly Charlatansesque, with brooding basslines, abrasive guitar hooks and a healthy dose of organs, sitars and soaring melodies, with the brief burst of flamenco guitar for good measure.
Follow up ‘Always Here’ is a sparkling wedge of feel good summery indie pop, while ‘Smiling Faces’ continues the winning formula first evoked in ‘Pinkman’ – layered guitars, melodies and anthemic soundscapes.
The glossy, merry ‘You Know It’s Right’ and ‘Shake The Sun’ could both have been lifted from Teenage Fanclub’s ‘Bandwagonesque’, while the frenetic, trippy ‘Mind-Blowing’ juxtaposes in a 6 minute wall of clashing sitars and organs.
While falling a yard or two short or true originality, ‘The Mean Solar Times’ is still a consistent, solid effort from Stay who, through a combination of strong musicianship, layered sounds and sweet harmonies, no doubt permits the band to remain flagbearers of the Spanish, Brit pop influenced indie kitsch sound for some time to come.