Galway-based Mike Smalle was the main creative driving force behind Cane 141, the much-acclaimed electronic/pop act whose Moonpool album was nominated for the first ever Choice Prize in 2005. B-Movie Lightning is his new solo project, and such is its overall vibe and feel that it seems designed to soundtrack the summer months.
Last year’s excellent single ‘Triple Trouble’ gave us a fair idea of what to expect from this project, and it features as the opening track here. It’s an infectious, sun-kissed creation complete with charming brass flourishes and dreamy male/female harmonies. ‘Take Yourself To The City’ carries on in a similar vein: essentially a pop song over a shimmering electro-pop pulse, the lazy reference point would be New Order but it’s more specifically reminiscent of Electronic’s poppier phase (ie. ‘Raise the Pressure’). ‘Foxy Trot’, meanwhile, is a bouncy and carefree mid-tempo tune that recalls Saint Etienne (Ian Catt, who helps out on production and mixing duties here, has been a touring member of said band).
However, the record has its melancholic moments too. ‘The Spooky West’ features wistful vocals, an insistent bassline and subtle, more mournful-sounding brass; while ‘A Country Mile’ is a down-tempo number that provides the twilit alternative to its more radiant counterparts. Similarly providing variety, ‘Theme From B-Movie Lightning’ is the most dancefloor-indebted track, where the ever-present brass works surprisingly well with a pulsating electronic groove and vocoderised vocals. The second half of the album sees Smalle pursue the same gleaming vibe as the opening tracks for the most part: it’s agreeable and charming, although at 13 tracks you do get the feeling that there are no more surprises towards the end of the record. Overall though, a welcome return from one of our more underrated talents.