South Londoners Blueprint Blue are a curious proposition. They have a very American sound but deliver it in a uniquely British way. Sound-wise it is clear they are working from the classic 70s soft rock template, drawing most heavily from the works of Steely Dan but also the likes of the Doobie Brothers and Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac.
However, far from having the dewy-eyed lyrics about Californian sunshine and lovelorn relationships that sound might conjure in your mind, this record’s lyrical obsessions are more idiosyncratic and laced with a very British sense of humour. For example, Heatwave, which on the surface sounds just like one of those melodious odes to summer sun but in very British style is actually a moan about it being too hot opening with the line “Will the sun not go down today? Somebody save us from this heatwave.”
This sense of irony runs throughout the album. Similarly, the likes of Roll On, which you would assume to be a yearning love song to a crush, is actually singer/guitarist’s Elliot Hayward’s love letter to his battered old Volvo estate. Away from such amusements, Hayward’s main lyrical obsessions are more out of this world drawing on his, and the band’s, love of sci-fi. Not one but two songs draw inspiration from the short stories of Isaac Asimov (Sucker Bait and Real As These). A surprising lyrical source for sure (well, outside of prog, that is).
It is clear that between the 70s soft rock sound and the sci-fi references the band are not trying to gain any cool points or become the hip band of the moment. No, they are much more interested in ploughing their own furrow, and there is something about their determinedly unfashionable-ness that makes both the band and the record more endearing.
An-D is probably the perfect example of this uncool charm. It is a sweet, catchy song which musically features the squelchy synths you would most naturally associate with 70s British sci-fi and lyrically tells an off-kilter tale of robot love.
Also, while the band has a clear musical template they are drawing from, the LP is not without the odd surprise either, most notably the Tree Song. It is probably the most melancholic cut here, as well as being the most musically distinctive, even featuring some ragged Neil Young-esque guitar, something that particularly stands out amongst the rest of this synth space odyssey.
Tourist is a breezy sweet debut album which will make for perfect easy summer listening. Sure, the record skates close a being a bit throwaway and a tad too twee for its own good, but it is hard not to be won over by its nerdy charms.