Recorded in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, Blue Motel is the new album by Bart & The Bedazzled, a brand new musical enterprise by Bart Davenport and his seventh album proper since his solo breakout in 2002. Alluding to Los Angeles with the lights down, it’s an amalgam sound of ‘80s English pop and West Coast yacht rock jams, sprinkled with cinematic flourishes clearly influenced by the understated production of L.A. Takedown’s Aaron M. Olson. The jangly pop aesthetic, resplendent with choppy chorus tinted guitar, snappy snares, sax and bass is underlined with life trodden stories about day jobs, dating, financial insecurities, lost innocence and most prominently, time travel.
The album lives somewhere in an imagined past (or future) that is curiously both the 1960s and 1980s conveying the group's nostalgia for a fantasy world with a cheeky cynicism, despite a perception of a world that is, for Bart, on the downfall. To that end, Davenport’s songs are, as always, delivered with a happy and sad sensibility reminiscent of the great Burt Bacharach. From the surreal yet humorous ‘The House That Built Itself’ to the sad surf music of ‘Halloween By The Sea’ or the romantic L.A. noir of the title track, Blue Motel arrives with a spoonful of tears, a nod, and a wink.
The Bedazzled band lineup, united by their love of the ‘Elegant ‘80s’, includes the guitar of Wayne Faler (Dream Boys), drums, percussion and beats by Andres Renteria (Jose Gonzales) and post-punk bass lines from Jessica Espeleta (L.A. Takedown). The four friends from Los Angeles, united in their affection for the more sophisticated sounds of English ‘80s groups like Prefab Sprout and Style Council give the setlist a more distinctively pop flavour compared to Bart’s soulful last outing on his album Physical World, also released on Lovemonk. Blue Motel features regular appearances from female vocalist Nedelle Torrisi (Domino, Asthmatic Kitty) who notably adds the lush layers of harmony on ‘The Amateurs’. Saxophonist Billy McShane is also featured on three songs with improvisations that evoke the scene of whales in outer space.
Producer Olson often incorporates soundtrack and avant-garde elements in his own work. His gift for song arrangement, understanding of the synth and penchant for subtlety all shine brightly on Blue Motel.
"Davenport's catalog is a series of nested quotations brilliantly lifted and folded into power-pop confections that he's mastered, down to the lemon zest and sea-salt sprinkles on top"