Here we have a bedroom auteur in thrall to the ‘80s. Do we need anymore? On the evidence of this, yes. This is an album that likes a bass sound, running the full gamut of phat, phunky, phrobbing, phumping, pumping and plodding. Their deployment at the core of 90% of the songs is akin to a Jeff Lynne production, with its omniscient drum crash and trademark plodding Beatles piano. Jeff, if you’re reading, that’s not a dig, by the way.
‘A Parting Gift’ kicks off the album in a jaunty, summery fashion; a last ditch salvage job for another doomed romance with a hybrid Neu Order thrum. The bubbly mood is undercut with a happy-sad chorus of:
“Won’t you read my letter, just one more time
Keep us together, just give it a try.”
‘Too Far Gone’s bouncy-synth and fat bass combination entice drawled vocals whose affected disaffection is hugely affecting. This tale of coming “back from the brink” has another strong sing-along chorus, which plays out to a Stranglers-like whirling organ and squelchy guitar.
‘Start!’ is evocative of criminally ignored and forgotten British band, Grand National. “Too old to be told, you’re no longer young,” he opines to an unknown audience before callously telling them that, “there’s no point in you feeling sorry for yourself”. It’s an intriguing and arresting narrative.
‘The Great Shark Hunt’ starts like Lipps Inc’s ‘Funky Town’ meeting Queen’s ‘Radio Ga Ga’ at a discotechque in 1984 and realising they’d forgotten to ask Blondie’s ‘Atomic’ to the dance. It’s upbeat with a hint of melancholia. ‘As Good As It Gets’ goes for the early New Order ‘Ooky low-slung, deep-throat bass with its plaintive, “we’ll always be strangers in love”; a sadly familiar lament to all innocents out there.
‘Heavy Lay the Crown’ continues the theme:
“My good intentions ran out long ago,
My fall from grace a story to be behold.
Embarrassed by the projection of my thoughts,
The undoing of everything I was.”
Albeit, the protagonist is aware that he or she is “playing the fool”. Or are they?
‘Memory Man’ is Giorgio Moroder-ish science-fiction film music with existential metaphorical mutterings of, “I don’t trust my reflection, He seems to know more than I do.” ‘Talk The Talk’s absence of bass creates a sparse and spooky atmosphere and is thematically like The The in its pointing out of the hypocrisies and the shamateur policies of our rulers. A conscious-awakening call to arms that decries THEM and “THEIR seeds of power”, THOSE who “talk the talk while treading water”. It’s a sobering and stirring culmination.
Emotive, emotional and feel-good, this is exquisite pop: Can he talk the talk? Y_S, H_ C_N.
Blink Specks? Blynk Spycts? Blunk Spocks? Bl$nk Sp!c*s? You fill in the blanks.
Memory Man is released on 7th July via You Records.