The Blue Van - Man Up
I was thrown a bit when I first popped the album in for a listen. When I unabashedly raved about their debut back in 2005, I wrote, “Throughout The Art of Rolling, Søren V. Christensen plays the Hammond Organ, Wurlitzer, Vox Organ and Mellotron. He is the main ingredient that makes this band stand out from the pack and its sound hearken back to the old days.” However, when listening to “Be Home Soon” the first track on the band’s third album Man Up, I couldn’t hear any magnificent keyboards. I wouldn’t have to wait for long before finding them, but they don’t have the same prominence as before and don’t stay around for long.
No surprise that a traveling band would write a song like “Be Home Soon,” but it works for anyone apart from a loved one. The guitars and drums build to a rocking crescendo that recalls The Kinks and The Who. The band lays down a good groove on the title track while the arrangements alternate between full band to isolated electronic drum pad loop. The organ adds nice fills in the mix.
A couple of upbeat rockers follow that cancel each other out in terms of maturity. The narrator of “Silly Boy” wants the young men to grow up. Then one of those silly boys could well be singing “There Goes My Love” who he wants oral sex from in the matter-of-fact lyrics that finds the band moving up a decade in influence as they ape the straightforwardness of ‘70s bands like KISS and AC/DC, sounding more like their peers the band Jet. The music on the latter resembles the great reckless abandon of young lust.
“Lay Me Down And Die” opens slow and soft, as Steffen Westmark sings over a lone guitar, but there’s no ballad here as the pace and arrangement picks up the intensity like a blues-infused classic rock song. The organ makes a return in “The Socialite” and gets featured on the bridge, sounding more like the band’s earlier work.
It’s curious for a band with a throwback sound to have a song named “I'm A Man” because it invites more comparisons than usual, including artists the likes of Bo Diddley and Spencer Davis Group. Here the band expands their sound even further with Mads “Pølle” Poulsen on sax and Shaka Loveless rapping. The sax works well, but the rapping doesn’t add anything.
The arrangements on Man Up find the band harder to distinguish from other retro-sounding bands currently on the scene. I wouldn’t sing the same high praise their debut warranted, but they still deliver an enjoyable 44 minutes of music.
With the collapse of TVT Records, the band has no U.S. distributor. The album can currently be downloaded from iTunes and a vinyl version is reportedly due anytime.