Introducing: Blue River – 'Life Imitating Art'

Aaron Kent introduces Cornwall's Blue River to When The Horn Blows as the indie pop four-piece gear up to release their new album, 'Life Imitating Art' on May 28th. 

Blue River are a cacophony of indie, pop, and indie-pop in the most indie-pop way an indie-pop fan could imagine.As a four-piece – with an ever-changing individual on the drums, it seems – the band have taken Cornwall by storm (and arguably would be doing a hell of a lot better if the media coverage of the local music scene wasn’t so heavily determined by the views and whims of a certain nameless individual who cares more for the big names than the local names and seems content with covering big gigs and ignoring the – usually more electric – small venues).

On drums, currently, is Terry McGowan, though their website suggest Jim Richardson is still drummer. Bass player Matt Bond is twice the bassist I ever was and has a wonderful sense of what the song needs – whereas some bands have bassists who can either underplay and strum a single note, or overplay and take the rhythm from the song, Matt Bond does exactly what is needed and is an excellent musician. Frontman Perran Nicholls provides Oasish vocals.

But the real star, the key to the whole story, the main element of the whole thing, is guitarist Marc Willoughby. Willoughby imbues Blue River’s new album Life Imitating Art with a fearless sense of guitarmanship, pulling together the aforementioned band members and underlying the whole thing with an excellence that only he could provide. Marc Willoughby is a stallion, a superhero without a cape, a Golden God. He is the star.

As deft at backing vocals as he is at guitar, Willoughby’s voice is like being serenaded under a blue sky in the midst of an apple orchid somewhere in a Jane Austen novel. Every track, from the wonderful 'Elegance' to the catchy 'Marty McFly', is evidence of the glory that is Marc Willoughby. I imagine it may not be long before we have a new religion – Marcwilloughbanity – in which followers believe themselves to be guided towards the bright light by Marc’s harmonious vocals and his glorious guitar playing.

While you may be tempted to listen purely because of Marc Willoughby alone – and boy should you be – you’re likely to find yourself singing these songs days later. Their catchy undertones and indie-pop sensibilities linger long in the memory – as does the vision of Marc Willoughby flicking his hair back as he bangs out another chord.

Blue River are great, now if only we could get that Cornish taste-maker dude to catch on.

DISCLAIMER: Marc Willoughby is my best friend. I was the best man at his wedding, he was best man at mine. He is also my daughter’s Godfather. I don’t think this swayed my review at all though