The Blue Nile released their fourth album ‘High’ in 2004, a mere eight years after their previous album. The slow drift of their music seemed to carry through to their productivity. It’s been well-documented that the Scottish band take their time, crafting every note.
For those who found the prominent guitars and general upbeat vibe of Peace At Last a bit jarring, this was a welcome return to the moodier sound of old. On first listen, you could be forgiven for wondering: where are the standout songs? The album seems to drift by, one song flows into another. It opens with repeating keyboards of The Day of Our Lives, a sparse track that allows Paul Buchanan’s voice to fill the gaps. It’s strongly reminiscent of Over the Hillside.
Some of it misses the mark, the slow shuffle of I Would Never is a little close to U2 territory for comfort, while Broken Lives channels the eighties a little too strongly, but the rest is very listenable. The slow, picked guitars of Because of Toledo would have sat well on Peace At Last, the organ in the background adds atmosphere.
The title track feels like the centrepiece. Opening with elegiac keyboards and a gorgeous Buchanan vocal, singing resonant lyrics like “I don’t want to wake you when you’re sleeping so quiet” and later “look at the morning people going to work and fading away”. It feels like an instant classic, it just makes you want to float away from the world.
This is probably not the album to introduce people to the Blue Nile. But those who enjoy A Walk Across the Rooftops and Hats will want this one and hold it close.
“The Days of Our Lives” – 3:32
“I Would Never” – 4:26
“Broken Loves” – 5:20
“Because of Toledo” – 3:53
“She Saw the World” – 3:36
“High” – 3:46
“Soul Boy” – 4:40
“Everybody Else” – 3:50
“Stay Close” – 7:46