In indie rock years, the time between 2007 when Big Blue Marble released Natchez and now is an eternity—practically long enough for a reunion tour or a tribute band. On their new, almost self-titled CD, though, Big Blue Marble has streamlined its sound. Mike Blum’s lap steel guitar is a nice link to the band’s early days as an Americana band, but from the moment the drums kick in (and the guitars turn up) on the first track, “Motorboat,” it’s apparent that their latest effort is all about loud, fast three-minute songs. A couple clock in at just over four minutes, but there are no portentous intros or exploratory noise-pop solos here—The Big Blue Marble tries to put the “roll” into indie rock.
Songwriter Dave Fera joins the local reference tradition with “Faubourg Marigny,” which takes aim at “rock ‘n’ roll clones” in “skinny tapered jeans.” Its angry guitar riff fits well, and it’s certainly got its targets’ number, but it’s a too-easy set of cooler-than-thou potshots in an otherwise thoughtfully conceived lyrical project.
The unpretentious nature of the nine original songs on the Big Blue Marble extends to the album’s production quality and sound. Where so many indie bands either overproduce synthetically or strive mightily (and expensively) for lo-fi, Big Blue Marble hits the analog nail on the head. Their sound is clean and uncluttered, with the additions of only handclaps and 12-string guitar to the core group’s bass, drums, guitar and lap steel. They sound refreshingly like five guys in a room, making music they can’t wait to perform.