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Andy Stott – Passed Me By album review

Great albums are usually granted such a grace due to their fluidity in theme and tone, as well as for their excellence in musicianship. Great albums have that ability to change a person’s mood (for better or worse) and to suck a listener into every note. They don’t just tell stories; great albums become them.

With Passed Me By, Andy Stott has not created a great album.

He got damn close, but unfortunately the British music producer fell short on his newest LP, and it’s because of one defining characteristic: the songs are just downright boring. Sure, there’s substance to them, but there isn’t any musical flair, which makes for a monotonous 33 minutes. What Stott seemed to be going for was a showcase of darkness and dementia, giving off that feeling of being chased only to eventually be “passed by” the angel of Death. And he accomplishes that feat, which gives the LP artistic value and a worthy reason for a listen, but the slow burn it took to get that mood across is what’s holding this record back from greatness.

The 38-second intro, “Signature,” lets us know trouble is on the way as alarms sound, and Stott doesn’t lose sight of his theme as he sinks us deeper and deeper into his abyss. But with tracks “New Ground” and “Dark Details” clocking in at over six minutes, he holds the story back. Strictly naming your song “Dark Details” explains a lot to people; you don’t need minute upon minute of demonic voices overlaid on droning bass to get across your idea. And that’s what you’re in for with Passed Me By. Dull repetition. It’s as though Stott took no constructive criticism and just hit the off button when he felt fit. Which really should come as no surprise; he’s a producer, but doesn’t that mean he should know more than anyone that artists need a second opinion?

This LP works better as a film score (probably for “8mm,” the Nicolas Cage film about underground snuff porno), rather than something strictly listener supported. But it excels in other aspects, which doesn’t make it a bad album. Passed Me By is, well, decent, and decency still deserves a listen.

By Matt Edsall

Matt's obsession with music rivals few other obsessions in his life. ("The Wire" and drinking coffee are two of them.) He resides in Los Angeles, but hopes to settle in Nashville. You can check out more at his own music blog (link below), as well as at Popmatters.com, where he also does album reviews.

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