Azure Blue - Images Of You

matcd086  /  June 2019
Azure Blue - Images Of You
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Azure Blue - Images Of You

matcd086  /  June 2019

Azure Blue, one of Sweden’s most internationally acclaimed indie artists, is back with a stunning fifth album ‘Images of You’ and it is absolutely clear that somebody has fallen in love. Consistent with the approach on the celebrated debut album ‘Rule of Thirds’ in 2011, Tobias Isaksson set his main focus on the songwriting with tracks written on guitar and carefully transformed into warm analog synth soundscapes. Using his film director girlfriend as a muse, the results are heartfelt and romantic pop classics.

Cinematic opener ‘Hökarängen’ is the sound of the night bus home from the studio marking the end of an era roaming aimlessly alone, while ‘Entropy’ is a three-minute rush of synthpop perfection that signals the thrilling excitement of newfound love. ‘Event Horizon’—one of several featured singles on the album—is a dark but hopeful story about love in the time of climate change that showcases captivating melodies, a soaring chorus, and a certain Spanish flair.

‘Millions of Stars’ is another enchanting single featuring analog synth arpeggios and one of the biggest crescendos we’ve heard from nearly a decade of productions, while ‘Images of You’ is two minutes of haunting old school synthpop with ethereal female backing vocals and ‘Running with the Eventide’ slows down the pace with an especially honest love song.

‘Yesterday’s Gone’ is another single contender with a sensational singalong chorus, enticing percussion, and absolutely superb melodies, while ‘Wild for the Night’ is a keyboard-driven manic pop thrill and lead single ‘Shine On’ is a dreamy synthpop hit with shimmering reverb that brightens up the song like the northern lights.

‘Sea of Love’ is an earnest love song that further demonstrates Isaksson’s romantic side, while album closer ‘The Rose’—a beautiful, naked ballad written and recorded in one day—is the most sincere Azure Blue track to date.

Echoing timeless pop melodies—as if Depeche Mode, New Order, and OMD grew up in Sweden instead of England—and featuring contributions from contemporary Swedish artists The Land Below and Paola, ‘Images Of You’ is consummate electronic indie and Azure Blue’s finest moment to date.

  1. Hökarängen
  2. Entropy
  3. Event Horizon
  4. Millions of Stars
  5. Images of You
  6. Running with the Eventide
  7. Yesterday's Gone
  8. Wild for the Night
  9. Shine On
  10. Sea of Love
  11. The Rose


I must admit that I didn’t know who Azure Blue was when I was asked to review his 5th album ‘Images of You’. Azure Blue is the solo project of Tobias Isaksson from Stockholm, named as a tribute to ‘Pacific Ocean Blue’ the seminal solo album by The Beach Boys drummer the late Dennis Wilson. As anyone who knows my musical tastes will tell you I’m a huge fan of The Beach Boys and their creative genius Brian Wilson from their peak Pet Sounds and Smile era, so this artist is already off to a good start. The album opens with the short ambient instrumental ‘Hokarangen’ followed by the duet ‘Entropy‘ featuring The Land Below, a synth disco sound which would have been at home on any number of early 1980’s albums but also recalling 1989’s Malcolm McLaren song ‘Jumping In My Shirt’. The album continues in a mellow electronic love song mood on the next couple of tracks ‘Event Horizon‘ and ‘Millions of Stars‘. Title track ‘Images of You‘ featuring Paola is a more upbeat affair with shades of The Human League featuring a lead male voice with female co-vocals and backing. ‘Running With the Eventide’ takes the album back into a more mellow reflective mood and is a standout track. ‘Yesterday’s Gone’ is another gem of a melodic electronic pop song recalling peak OMD and again showcases Tobias’ knack to write catchy concise pop songs. Although this is one of the longer tracks on the album it still only weighs in at a 3 minutes 39 seconds. The Land Below returns to duet on the next two tracks ‘Wild For The Night‘, which is possibly the weakest track so far but still not a bad song at all, and the beautiful ‘Shine On’, another of the album’s many high points. ‘Sea of Love’ opens with an electronic orchestral sweep before transforming into another beautiful sythpop love song and is arguably the best track lyrically on the album as Tobias delivers another beautiful ode to his girlfriend who was his muse for this album. The album ends with the equally beautiful ‘The Rose‘ a gem of a two minute pop song and perhaps the most beautifully melodic track on a superbly crafted record. I will certainly be checking out Azure Blue’s back catalogue on the showing of this superb effort.   --Indie Midlands
It is overcast and a bit dreary outside of WYMA World Headquarters this morning, but the atmosphere inside is warm and sunny thanks to Tobias Isaksson. You see, Mr. Isaksson is Azure Blue, and under that name he creates the kind of synth pop music that elicits sighs and smiles, incites romance, and paints the listener's world with optimism. For his new album, Images of You, Tobias wields his synths like a great sushi chef making the perfect cut, a pulse here, a swooping chord there, and layers of bright musical joy transporting us to the sky. He can provide romanticism with soft, lush subtlety, such as in "Running with the Eventide", or with reckless abandon such as in "Wild for the Night". Either way, based on our experiments undertaken selflessly to improve your musical enjoyment, clothing may end up scattered on the floor. Yes, we sacrificed and you are quite welcome. Highlight songs abound, although our current favorites -- in addition to the two baby-makers above -- are "Event Horizon", "Millions of Stars" and "Shine On". End your week on a high note with Images of You.   --When You Motor Away
Mi si potrebbe dire che album sull’amore ormai ne sono stati scritti tanti, tantissimi. Ma ci bastano? Direi di no, visto che l’amore è uno di quei temi a cui la musica attinge e attingerà per sempre. In questo caso ad usare come musa ispiratrice una donna è il buon Tobias Isaksson, in arte Azure Blue, che piazza un pregevole disco synth-pop per celebrare lodi e decantare le emozioni che può provocare l’amore. Saranno anche frasi fatte, saranno anche parole sentite e risentite…eppure se dette in un certo modo (e in questo caso lo sono!), con la giusta predisposizione e sincertità (e anche queste cose qui non mancano!) e con una colonna sonora così belle, beh, vi assicuriamo che “Il Tempo Delle Mele” potrebbe tornare in un attimo! Non fatevi spaventare dall’aperura di “Hokarangen” che potrebbe ricordarvi Twin Peaks. No, qui non ci sono zone d’ombra o momenti ad alta tensione drammatica e perversa. Qui abbiamo amore, zucchero e romaticismo declinati con quel verbo che tutti i fan dei primissimi Depeche Mode e dei New Order conoscono alla perfezione. Canzoni dal minutaggio contenuto, che vanno dritte al punto, melodicamente impeccabili. Vecchia scuola potremmo dire. Certo che il synth-pop, a giudicare da album come questo o come quello dei Red Sleeping Beauty, sta più che bene!   --Indie for Bunnies
Stockholmsbon Tobias Isaksson tycks vara en väldigt passionerad man. Att anta en distanserad pose och/eller gömma sig bakom en mask av ironi och cynism verkar inte ligga för honom. Senaste gången jag intervjuade honom höll han till exempel (självmant!) ett tio minuter långt hyllningstal till singer-songwritern Margo Guryans ära. Med andra ord är det fullkomligt logiskt att Isaksson – under sitt välrenommerade artistnamn Azure Blue – spelat in en konceptplatta om kärleken han hyser till sin flickvän. Och att Images Of You, som denna konceptplatta är döpt till, svämmar över av himlastormande känslor är även det tämligen väntat. En sågning av Images Of You vore följaktligen som att … förklara ordet ”misantropi” för en beaglevalp, kanske? Men lyckligtvis är dess blandning av Jon ”The Beloved” Marsh-sång, mjukt puttrande Vince Clarke-syntar och Simple Minds-om-och-kring-Once Upon A Time-melodier synnerligen oemotståndlig. Rekommenderas särskilt för dig om överdoserat på Blood On The Tracks. Årets skiva för alla nyförälskade   --Gaffa
Azure Blue, projeto do músico sueco Tobias Isaksson, já tem um bom tempo de estrada. Foi desde 2011 que ‘Rule Of Thirds’ chamou a atenção de muitos ouvintes. Com ‘Beyond The Dreams There’s Infinite Doubt’ (2013), o artista manteve o padrão e concretizou a fama que possuía sobretudo nas terras suecas. Tobias já trabalhou com vários remixes e atuou em outros projetos com muitos colaboradores conterrâneos, sendo um deles Peter Móren do grupo Peter Bjorn And John. Ouvir ‘Images Of You’ traz à tona grandes nomes da Suécia dessas duas décadas (Studio, The Radio Dept), bem como nos transporta para a New Wave 80’s e muitas serão as associações que passarão em nossos cérebros: a contagiante e grudenta ‘Entropy’ faz lembrar de Beloved, ‘Event Horizon’ parece inspirada em New Order, o romantismo guiado por sintetizadores em ‘Yesterdays Gone’ é algo que o OMD poderia ter feito em seus trabalhos. Inebriado de um clima dançante e nostálgico, o álbum tem poucos momentos melancólicos, talvez ‘Sea Of Love’ com um panorama mais sombrio e ‘The Rose’ que desliga as batidas para dar maior ênfase ao sintetizador etéreo. Mais um projeto que visa cutucar o cérebro do ouvinte saudoso dos 80’s e que caminha da forma certa.   --Urge!
Hace un año, y casi una semana, que puse por aquí el anterior trabajo de Azure Ray. Y es que Tobias Isaksson, es uno de los artistas suecos más prolíficos, y no puede parar de crear música. También es cierto que lo compone todo él, por lo que, sí se encuentra con una buena dosis de inspiración, se pone a escribir como un loco. Y para estas canciones ha encontrado la mayor inspiración de todas: el amor. De hecho, es el disco de toda su carrera en el que más canciones canta, y el que menos invitados tiene. Algo que supongo que será por los personales que son estos temas. “Images of You” es otra notable colección de canciones de synth-pop con sabor escandinavo. Isaksson maneja estupendamente ese mundo donde los sintetizadores se juntan con el pop más luminoso. Y lo hace desde el principio, con la efusiva ‘Entropy’, donde sí que aparece la voz invitada de The Land Bellow. Una efusividad que también aparece en el acelerado tema que da título al álbum, en el que, por cierto, también hay una voz invitada, la de Paola. Y es que, parece que se ha reservado las canciones más abiertamente pop, para que las canten otros. Porque en ‘Wild for the Night’ y ‘Shine On’, donde aparece de nuevo The Land Bellow, nos encontramos con dos cortes absolutamente irresistibles. Isaksson se ha dejado los temas más delicados para interpretarlos el mismo. Pero hay dos excepciones: ‘Event Horizon’ y ‘Millions of Stars’. La primera es todo un hit de synth-pop, en la que, según la nota de prensa de su sello, encontramos unas melodías cautivadoras, un estribillo en ascenso, y cierto estilo español. La verdad es que no tengo ni idea de a qué se refieren con lo “estilo español”, pero la canción es estupenda. Al igual que la segunda, en la que se pone un poco más delicado, y nos deja una bonita semi-balada de lo más épica y sintética. Donde no está tan acertado, es en los cortes más repodados, de los que cuales, tan solo me han gustado ‘Yesterday’s Gone’ y ‘Sea of Love’. Y, de hecho, tampoco me han parecido sobresalientes. Simplemente no están mal.   --Don't Eat The Yellow Snow