During the recording of ‘Statues’, The Open’s Steven Bayley split from his long-term girlfriend. Upsetting for them, but great news for us. The Open always sounded huge, but manageably huge in an early U2 and The Verve way rather than anything too exciting. Well, not anymore.
The Open have never lacked ambition, but you still have to applaud ‘Forever’, a gravity-free piece that combines Miles Davis-like trumpet with spectral piano chords and precious few words. First single, ‘We Can Never Say Goodbye’ (“Curtain’s coming down on our love”) is absolute glumness personified, but, somehow, feels strong enough to crush pain and doubt on contact. How do they do that?
The title track (“I broke you down, no sight nor sound”) is just Bayley’s voice and a guitar and is all the more startling for it. ‘Alone’ could have been pulled from the soundtrack of some existentially dour, Left Bank tragedy from 1970. ‘Season Of The Change’ is stadium-sized in its desire to reach out and touch everyone, ‘Two Lovers In The Rain’ is piano jazz-bo craziness, if you please.
‘Statues’ is, frankly, all over the shop. Too many ideas, too much energy, too many possibilities, too many wide open roads to ever settle and become boring. Or keep their girlfriends. But that’s not our problem.