Review Summary: When I start to look back.
On a minisite especially made for Giant Steps
’ 20 year anniversary, you can read interesting flashbacks by the band members about this album. Here, the members from this Britpop band think back about the process of making the record and give their interpretations of the album. The most interesting one is from singer Sice Rowbottam. In his writing piece, he said that the album sounds like they were loose children, not under the supervision of an adult (or in this case, a producer) - not worrying about how it should be, but just experiment and play
And I can see that. Giant Steps
sure is pretty interesting. To give two of the most obvious examples: the instrumentation is fascinating with its abundance of flutes and horns and the album sometimes explores a bit into noise rock with small noise parts (In the intro of “Upon 9th and Fairchild”, for example). These points provide a great variance within the album, which is actually one of its greatest strengths. This success can be contributed to the excellent song writing. The Boo Radleys make sure that all songs clearly differ from one way to another, giving something special to each individual track while maintaining their cohesion with each other.
This bit of experimentation doesn’t affect the album’s accessibility in any way. It actually has a lot of just straight up pop songs. “Wish I Was Skinny” is probably the most blatant one; it has quite a simple song structure and is really catchy. The Boo Radleys still make sure that the instrumentation in this song is interesting: the song features great guitar playing and a bit of horns on the background. Or take another highlight, the up-tempo “Barney (…and me)”, which is just as catchy with its energetic guitars and great melody. “Lazarus” was arguably the biggest hit from Giant Steps
, but it’s also the least obvious single of out all the singles. It doesn’t really have a chorus and is not crazy catchy. Instead it’s mainly a memorable single because of the blasting horns.
Unfortunately does not everything work in Giant Steps
, especially the vocal effects used in some tracks are not good: they are more distracting than interesting. The most clear example is in “Spun Around”; this track has a fantastic intro, with a lovely flute and an acoustic guitar, but that gentle moment is completely ruined when the vocals come in. Luckily are those moments quite sparse.
closes with the track “The White Noise Revisited’’ and it’s a fitting one. It is a perfect representation of the album: it has its typical instrumentation, those annoying vocal effects (although they work better than on “Spun Around”) and captures their more pop moments with the singing of the line “hey, what’s that noise/do you remember
”. That line might be the best moment of Giant Steps
; a joyful moment of singing together which begs to sing along. This is what Giant Steps
is: a catchy, varied album with colorful instrumentation.