My first encounter with Buffalo Summer was several years ago in Exeter when they were the support for one of the many incarnations of Heavens Basement. I came away from that gig thinking that Buffalo Summer were by far the better band on the night and their bluesy, ballsy rock n roll reminded me of a cross between Cry of Love and Silvertide (if you don’t know those bands check them out!). Since then I have seen the band on several other occasions and always found them to be a thoroughly engaging live band. However when it comes to their studio output I have always found they have fallen short of what they can do live, but will album number Three, ‘Desolation Blue’, change my mind?
The short answer is sadly no, and if anything I find ‘Desolation Blue’ a little bit more confusing than what has come before. The confusion comes from the band seeming to not know who or what they want to be. One minute they sound very soulful and bluesy, with the excellent ‘Dark Valentine’ being a standout track on the album, and then the next minute during ‘The Bitter End’, the band throw in big leanings towards grunge with the track having a very strong Alice in Chains feel about it, and this mixing of styles is quite noticeable throughout the entire album. Understandable considering the bands musical background. It’s fair to say they have the talent with Andrew having the perfect voice for this style and utterly convincing in his delivery whilst Johnny is up there with the best in this genre for riffs and solos whist the rhythm section holds everything together with class they clearly love what they do and do it with style.
It’s not to say that the album is bad (it is certainly not), there are some fine moments on it like the previously mentioned ‘Dark Valentine’, the hard-rocking and catchy ‘If the walls could Speak’ and the brooding album closer ‘Pilot Light’, but for every impressive moment, there are a lot of moments that while pleasant, are just easily forgettable. At this moment in their career, Buffalo Summer really needed to produce an album to open themselves up to more people outside of their current fan base, but with ‘Desolation Blue’ I don’t think they have done that, and while that won’t affect their ability to carry on as they are within their comfort zone, playing great live shows and impressing their fans, they have missed a chance to really push on. They have so much to offer as a band this, however, is still above average and maybe with time will be a grower.
Buy ‘Desolation Blue’ Here
Author: Nigel Taylor