“I tapped directions on the app,” begins the new record by Bristol stalwarts the Blue Aeroplanes, whose heyday was the 80s/90s cusp; they were beloved by REM. Welcome, Stranger! is pointedly set in the present day, but the Aeroplanes – dormant for many years since 2011’s Anti-Gravity – still play guitars so jangly they almost sound like bagpipes on Sweet, Like Chocolate. The main draw of this art-rock band (they have a dancer) remains the offhand, half-spoken work of poet-frontman Gerard Langley, who now teaches at Bristol’s BIMM music college. You do wonder what he would sound like with a less self-consciously hidebound band, but once again Langley veers between the mundane (Dead Tree! Dead Tree!) and the captivating (Poetland) with Puckish – and punkish – inconstancy. Ranting here, muttering there.
Kitty Empire is the Observer's pop critic. She has written for NME and occasionally crops up on Radio 4, 5Live, BBC 6Music, and has appeared on BBC2's The Culture Show and Newsnight Review. @kittyempire666