Angels in Science Fiction is the fifth studio album from St. Paul and The Broken Bones, an eight-piece soul band from Birmingham, Alabama.
In terms of smoothness of sound, this album would probably be rated as having a friction coefficient of close to zero. The production is excellent.
Each of the songs is in itself, an enjoyable listen. Overall, there is a relatively melancholy and subdued mood. The arrangements are (mostly) stripped down. For anyone having familiarity with previous albums by the band, their style remains instantly recognisable. However, if one wanted to introduce a friend to their music, this probably wouldn’t be your first choice.
John Martyn famously said, “Some people keep diaries, I make records”. Apparently, the songs on this album form such a musical diary. They were conceived (pun fully and shamelessly intended), when lead singer Paul Janeway learned his wife was pregnant, as a series of letters to his unborn child. The tone is of someone anxious about imminent parenthood and the uncertainties associated with it, rather than joyous and celebratory.
There are moments within several of the songs where they threaten to cut loose and soar, but the brakes are consistently applied. Don’t misunderstand, all of these songs would sit comfortably on any of the previous albums by this band. However as a collection, they would probably benefit from the addition of a few of songs with the tempo and energy of Convex and LivWithOutU from Young Sick Camellia (2018) or All I Ever Wonder and Tears in the Diamond from Sea of Noise (2016).
It’s a bit like an evening of ballroom dancing, where every melody is suited to either a waltz or a slow foxtrot, while one keeps hoping for a quickstep or tango to add variety. City Federal Building, Sea Star and Wolf in Rabbit Clothes are the standout tracks, featuring the lushest sounds.
A solid enough entry to their body of work, but not one that breaks any new ground.