Back in 2018, multi-instrumentalist, producer and one-time member of The Cure launched a new project, Astral Drive. The “band” acted as an outlet for Thornalley to revisit the kind of 70s AM radio pop he’d always loved. The album marked itself out as an instant classic, often inviting comparisons to the best works by Todd Rundgren and Jeff Lynne; the kind of record that would keep fans of classic retro pop entertained for years.
The album was then represented in stripped back arrangements on a digital release (self-titled, referred to as “The Green Album”), but it didn’t seem as if the world would see brand new music from Astral Drive again for some time…or possibly ever. The original LP almost sounded like a flash in the pan for retro cool; a perfect statement of the past, recreated for the present. To follow it up with anything as perfect would be a tall order after all.
Nevertheless, Astral Drive returned in January 2021 – amid the third UK pandemic lockdown – to bring everyone some audio sunshine with the digital single ‘Water Lilies’, which coupled with the promise of a new album was very welcome news indeed. Another taste of the upcoming full length album (scheduled for a summer release) came in February via ‘For The Dreamers’. While showing a little more of a homespun, DIY edge than previous tracks – something that’s not helped by a slightly jagged opening verse – a few plays suggests there’s still enough of a massive pop heart within this three minute tune to win over all lovers of the debut LP. Layered pop and strong vocals recall Thornalley’s fascination with 70s 7″ sides, while the world of ringing guitars actually pull the track closer to some of the work by Bleu than the expected Rundgren love. Those willing to spend a little extra time will certainly discover another pop gem.
Take a listen below.