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BMXS!!! Dreamers on the Run, BMX Bandits 12th studio LP is knowingly poptastic...


Dreamers on the Run, BMX Bandits 12th studio LP is knowingly poptastic...

by John Robinson,
first published: June, 2024

approximate reading time: minutes

This album has gestated for ten years, a series of songs about balancing a life between two worlds, the world of creativity and dreams, and the far-inferior so-called "real world". 

BMX Bandits coverBMX BANDITS
Dreamers on the Run

Since their formation in Bellshill the BMX Bandits have welcomed and nurtured talent, and championed outsiders. The band – or collective – helped develop the C86 movement and spawned the Soup Dragons, Teenage Fanclub, Vaselines. Sole permanent member Duglas T. Stewart has maintained the name through thick and thin, via relative success on Creation in the 90s, the acclaim of the music press, praise from Kurt Cobain, to splits and reorganisations during the past twenty years, battling his own ill health and more recently the world’s. This album has gestated for ten years, a series of songs about balancing a life between two worlds, the world of creativity and dreams, and the far-inferior so-called “real world”. 

After years of setbacks for the album, Duglas and composer Andrew Pattie worked together on the soundtrack to Mark MacNicol’s film Dreaded Light, an atmospheric story about grief and mental health, and hauntings. Pattie provides the more cinematic scope to this album, which is beautifully arranged and perfectly orchestrated. Additional artists contributing include Stuart Kidd, Calvin Johnson (Go Team) and Jowe Head (Swell Maps).

Duglas’ songs channel classic sounds with 60s arrangements, inspired by French pop of the past, by Scott Walker, Francoise Hardy and by folk artists. The opening and title song certainly matches that sonic template, inviting us along for an adventure: “I can see you're a dreamer too, please come dream with me”, like the shopkeeper in Mr. Benn, into a magical and creative place. 

“Setting Sun” plays merrily with its imagery, as the person sung about flies away from the singer, over what is clearly a desolate beach, Duglas singing “There's nothing to report, I'm sinking to my knees, Building bridges to your heart, not something done with ease”. The music is catchy earworm pop, with a harmonica hook reminiscent of Manfred Mann, the sweet tinged with regrets. “Time to Get Away” takes us away to the sea, Duglas clearly sincere about his care for mental health when he sings “I think about you my friend getting better, Healing sunshine everyday now”.

“What he set out to be” tells another story of a lost love, a warning not to make the same mistakes as “Winter blows fond memories away”. Followed by “Cockerel’s Waiting”, an optimistic song of love and adventure, which has elements of music hall and folk in its DNA, sounding at times like a classic Western song. It ends with a reprise of “Dreamers on the Run”, ending the first suite of songs. 

“My Name is Duglas” opens with electronic bass, and a succession of voices criticising Duglas, from the past, we hope, “His name is Duglas and he’s not quite right”. His rejoinder, that he’s “all right”, is delivered in a soft classical guitar finale, and that’s the point of the album really, it’s ok to be different and to dream, although it’s hard to do so against the hard edges of the real world. “Home Before Dark (In the Industrial Zone)” isn’t a paean to the Crystal Maze’s most underrated puzzle area but is a synth cover of Nora Guthrie’s beautiful acoustic classic: an object lesson in taking something from one place and leaving it somewhere else: a dreamer being out of place.

“Hop Skip Jump” is a breakup song, “I would hop skip jump for your love, But I'm sick and tired of running after you” and an example of Duglas’ simple knack for a hook and a good guitar riff.  “The World Was Round” is romantic, the other end of a relationship, and another great danceable 60s sound.

“The Things We Threw Away” boasts a full woodwind section, and is arranged by Jay Jay Lozano (The Band of Brothers), who brings a feel of old school jazz and musical theatre to the piece: a gorgeous song about loss and denial, but upbeat and optimistic, for, I suppose, what still might be.  “we can’t believe we lost them, we have to pay the cost of…” 

Playfully signing off with an 8-bit rendition of the title track, the closing track Digital Dreamers literally shuts down at the end. 

The message of this album - it’s all right to dream, it’s alright to be different - may be simple, but can never be overstated, and is a timely reminder of Duglas T. Stewart’s talent, tempered as always by kindness, warmth, and humanity.

essential information
Dreamers on the Run can be found on Bandcamp→ and elsewhere

John Robinson

Based in Scunthorpe, England. A writer and reviewer, working as a Computer Science and Media Lecturer and Educator. Sometimes accused of being a music writer called John Robinson, which is not helped by being a music writer called John Robinson. @thranjax
about John Robinson »»



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