High Land, Hard Rain (Deluxe)
Scotland's Aztec Camera made their vinyl debut when their leader—singer/songwriter Roddy Frame—was only 16 years old. By the time of AC’s debut album, Frame was a veteran all of 18 years old. Yet there’s nothing immature or unrealized on this near-perfect album of guitar pop. Frame’s youth only ensured an energy and optimism that can’t be faked. That High Land, Hard Rain is such a bona fide classic just forced endless comparisons to it throughout the band’s later career. Orange Juice, Scritti Politti, The Smiths, and Prefab Sprout were Aztec Camera's only contemporaries working at this level; each had their own idiosyncratic approach, making all of them the stronger for it. Here, from the opening excitement of “Oblivious,” it’s apparent that great things await. All fans have their preferences. “The Boy Wonders,” “Walk Out to Winter,” “Pillar to Post," and “Lost Outside the Tunnel” all feature a lyrically and texturally rich aesthetic sense. Guitars jangle in layers, rhythms shift into unexpected angles, and joyous and somber moods speak of romanticism grand and sad.