It’s the age-old tale of meeting a girl on the morning supermarket run in Dead Blue’s debut single ‘Tenderstem.’ We join our protagonist as he attempts to find love over fresh veg, catching the eye of another shopper and indulging in an imagined future in which he takes her home with his groceries. Or, quite possibly, it might just be about buying some really good broccoli.
The track builds well, drummer and vocalist Alex Sharples somehow finding a way to immediately draw you into his daft little story of romaine romance. Ryan Baker’s neat, chorus-tinged guitar arpeggios harmonise well with Sharples’ smooth, Cocker-esque baritone, as the opening sets the scene – ‘Saw you in the supermarket vegetable aisle/Supposed to pick up onions, but I picked out your smile.’
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The most impressive thing is how defiantly goofy the whole thing is. Much like Weezer’s emergence from under the weight of the bleak and self-serious grunge scene, Dead Blue arrive with a timing that means they stand apart from the dozens of identikit indie rock bands that clog up the alternative charts.
The band’s laser-cut power pop stylings push the point home. Despite the instrumentation being functional rather than particularly expansive, this does have the benefit of being a steady foundation for Sharples’ vocals, which do much of the heavy lifting. He rolls out deadpan lines – ‘tell me how do you want it, grilled or steamed’ – with a conviction and wry confidence that don’t show any hint of first-single nerves.