The Solarflares – that was then… and so is this

The Solarflares produced a great mix of retro and up to date rock ‘n’ roll on this 2000 album.

The release of the new album from Thee Jenerators has got me back into a mood to listen to some garage rock, so I took the opportunity to have a listen to one of the CDs recommended to me by that band’s frontman Mark Le Gallez, That Was Then… And So Is This, by The Solarflares.

Issued by Twist Records in 2000, it was kind of clear what to expect as Twist deals predominantly with retro rock ‘n’ roll spanning garage and mod in particular and in that I was certainly not disappointed.

The three-piece band could easily be lumped in with the “great garage scare” of the early 2000’s which brought us The Hives, The Strokes and (to an extent) The White Stripes, amongst others, but, like the Detroit duo there is something else at work here.

While the mainstays of garage rock are all present and correct, there are fuzzy guitars, swirling organs and driving bass lines there is also an element which clearly grew from the mid to late 80s British indie scene that brought us bands like The Smiths and from which the 90s ‘Britpop’ grew.

This combination of sounds makes for a great listen as we aren’t simply listening to a retread of something that’s been done 100 times before but are presented with something that combines older styles to create something new, and there is more than a hint mod to proceedings as well – at least the sort of mod played by the likes of The Risk.

Alongside the finely crafted indie inflected garage rock sounds of most of the tracks on the album one that really stood out for me was the instrumental number, Angel Interceptor, where the organ really came to fore and presented an at once atmospheric and immensely danceable track.

With a sound that feels like something from the original wave of garage rock of the 1960s, the album is a complete package that presents something for both fans of more modern indie and the more old school garage rock sound.

Personally I’m just a bit disappointed to have only discovered this band now as they split in 2004 and I’m not sure if there music is even still available, still if you can track it down I would heartily recommend giving this album, at least, a listen.

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