Deep Blue Sky
Edmonds, United States
Paul Cogley’s newest album, ‘Deep Blue Sky’ is a love letter to the Earth itself from Deep Space. To me, the entire album sounds like a compilation of the bands of the future; reflecting on the history of humanity and the struggles of our time, through a blend of analogue and synth tones. Paul Cogley has composed not only an album but a story with ‘Deep Blue Sky’.
The album opens up with ‘Mr. Spaceman’. It starts slowly with synths and then the drums and guitar kick in. Add the vocals and the image of a lone storyteller on a backdrop of stars fills your mind. The mix of harmonic pads with chorus guitar just drips with emotion. And it is only a taste of what’s to come. The song builds us up for ‘What If It Were You’, where the vocals take centre stage. Bowie-esque and smooth, they cut through the rich chords and melodies that adorn the rest of the song. ‘What If It Were You’ ends with a bluesy breakdown that is thick, rich and extremely tonal. A brilliant blend that just gets more complex as the song carries on. The guitar answers every question that the backing asks with great and masterful sincerity.
This bluesy ending leads us onto the first of many beautiful instrumental compositions on ‘Deep Blue Sky’, ‘Lament’. The song that signs the name on the love letter home. You can hear the emotional breaths as the acoustic guitar is slowly egged on by the accompanying bass. The story it is telling is one of longing and imperfection and it clashes brilliantly with the tone of the album so far. The synth pads, like bells, take a backseat to let the guitar talk to us one on one. Such a simple song in its arrangement but so complex in its chords and fingerpicking that it sets itself apart from the rest of the album. It juxtaposes ‘A Million Miles Away’, which comes later, with such precision that it is definitely purposeful.
‘Longing’ follows on from ‘Lament’ and gives the vibes of Depeche Mode, with crunchy blaring electric tones over complex percussion. The vocals are solemn and fit well with the spacey guitar and chirpy electric accents. The sliding guitar progressions give a sense of zero gravity as the song builds with blending strings. The slow and heartfelt feel doesn’t hang around for long. ‘The Flimflam’ is a bopping tune that feels both relentlessly modern and straight from the sixties. The driving drums and deep-set bass bring to life this dance-worthy dark beat, with its flanger guitars and catchy tune. The song is purely analogue. There’s no room for synths in this instrumental future classic.
‘Deep Blue Sky’ shows us so much of what Paul Cogley can do. ‘Everything Changes’ is a tremolo nirvana with lyrics about the struggles of the modern day. It serves as a catchy pull to the rest of the album. It shines on the record and would be my pick for the single. The smooth instrumentals allow you to get lost in the story Paul tells us in robotic harmony, as we fall deeper into the void of synthetic dreams.
The album is finishing off. We are pulled through the soundscape of ‘A Million Miles Away’, with its dragging cello punches and tubular beeps. Wailing star-sirens pitch in at a minute to go, bringing the complex and emotional composition to a close.
‘Who’s Keeping Score’ is a future pop ballad. If Duran Duran toured space stations in the year 3000, this would be a crowd favourite. Its use of sequential bass melodies ties perfectly with the soft vocal harmonies. The whole song is accented sparingly with strings and it drives a sad message through a surprisingly catchy and memorable melody.
The two last instrumentals, ‘Russian Doll’ and ‘Epitaph’ bookend the last two songs on the album. ‘All The Love Inside’ models the sound that the rest of the album emulates. A symbiotic relationship between synthetic and analogue. The drums keep pace as the vocals sing in remembrance of love, now lost. It is the most experimental in its composition, building pads, breakdowns as well as bluesy riffs. A section of spoken word completes the image that the whole album has been painting in our minds, once again adding humanity into an electric future. ‘Pebble’ is a song that reminds me of the Beatles. With its guitar harmonies, crispy bass and its lyrical focus on imagery. I can imagine this song being on an album titled “Plastic Dreams from a Paper Bag”. It fits so well here on ‘Deep Blue Sky’, reminding us how good classical songwriting can sound when blended with new wave instrumentals that just keep evolving as the song continues.
Paul Cogley has blended classical blues and strong, quality synths for a futuristic blend of warming and saddened songs that detail a troubled future. He also shows us the hope that humanity can bring to the cold abyss of space with songs like ‘Pebble’ and ‘Everything Changes’. ‘Deep Blue Sky’, through its use of heavy electric sounds and industrial percussion, relies on tone and emotion to give us an album that is undeniably human.