Morcheeba Blood Like Lemonade

[Play It Again Sam; 2010]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: trip-hop/electronica
Others: Portishead, Massive Attack

Morcheeba’s 2008 attempt to revisit the halcyon days of their mid-90s apex failed in one area only: Skye Edwards’ stunning voice was nowhere to be found. The Godfrey brothers, Paul and Ross, succeeded in fully recreating every other aspect of the band’s smoky trip-hop grooves, but without Edwards’ soulful voice, the songs on Deep Dive simply failed to resonate in the same way as previous efforts.

On Blood Like Lemonade, the Godfreys waste no time in remedying that oversight. Around the same time the album became available for pre-order, the brothers made sure the video for lead single “Even Though” was posted and highlighted on the band’s website. And make no mistake: it features Edwards looking sultry in a tight dress as she floats underwater and lip-syncs a series of poetic axioms about modern society. “Cast adrift in space, no fear/ By a paper moon/ Look at all the waste out here/ Did we peak too soon?” Environmentally focused, the song ponders whether society has reached a point of no return, “Even though we know it’s forever changing/ Even though we know we lie and wait/ Even though we know the hidden damage/ I hope it’s not too late.”

Overall, the band continues to take many of their cues from more notable contemporaries, but achieves slightly less noteworthy results. Where Portishead and Massive Attack excel in wrapping dreamy melodies around hip-hop-influenced rhythms, Morcheeba often wander too far down sunlit pathways, yielding a radiant, sugary feel. Seemingly conscious of this, the Godfreys attempt to offset the more saccharine elements by incorporating edgy subjects. “Crimson” describes the chaos and regret experienced in the moments after a serious automobile accident: “Under oath out by the wreckage/ With my head in my hands/ Wish I never got your message/ Felt too late to change our plans.” And furthering the drama, “Recipe for Disaster” opens with Edwards wondering, “Why there’s a dead guy in my dining room?”

Ultimately, the tragic plot elements do little to offset the optimistic music. In fact, the band produces their best material when they give in to the summery feel and succumb to their own positive vibe. “Blood Like Lemonade” hints at darker events, but combines campfire acoustic guitar chords with all the joie de vivre of a July picnic. “I Am the Spring” fuses wispy folk with the essence of vernal renewal and provides a nice break from the thrumming bass and programmed drum beats. On an album filled with good tracks, both examples reveal what Morcheeba are capable of when they aspire to craft a great song.

Nearly 15 years in, the Godfrey brothers have come full-circle. Along the way, they’ve learned how to procure an effective and highly personal blend of trip-hop that mixes the heavy drum and bass beats found on most tracks with subtle experiments in folk and electronica. While Blood Like Lemonade offers nothing new, its depiction of a seasoned group reveling in their own nostalgia makes for good listening.

Links: Morcheeba - Play It Again Sam

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