ALBUM REVIEW: Literature ‘Chorus’


Fifty years on the 1960s just won’t go away. More to the point, the ’60s that was refracted through the ’80s is the corpse that won’t stay dead. This is the C860s.

In this vein, Literature, a four-piece hailing from Philadelphia, US of America, release Chorus, their follow-up to 2012’s slow-burning Arab Spring. Aimed squarely at that amorphous business consumer category known as ‘indiepop’, its benchmark is Sarah Records, that bastion of floppy fringes, stripy tops, unrequited crushes and forlorn suitors in cardigans. This is a prevalent sound and aesthetic across the globe (see also Finland’s French Films and Cats on Fire and Japan’s Sloppy Joe) derived from the Merseybeat bands (The Beatles (natch), The Searchers) and US contemporaries like The Byrds and The Lovin’ Spoonful.

There’s a jollity and joie de vivre about this album, all frenetic power-pop and an air of everything’s alright. Everything will always be alright. Your opinion will depend on how much you like short, sharp stabs of sugary syrup. This is happy, but no less enjoyable for it, buoyant without ever being cloying. 

Kicking it off is the jerky, Strokesey ‘The Girl, The Gold Watch and Everything’; an intriguing title which the muffled vocals do nothing to elaborate on which is a infuriating aspect throughout. ‘Tie-Dye (Your life)’ has a vocal timbre reminiscent of Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley, a languid, detached bored to tears delivery with the lines ‘Time to win, time to lose, time it seems, never enough to choose, kick back and tie-dye the night’. Quite how you would do this remains a mystery.   

‘Court/Date’ has an ambiguous title: leaving one to wonder is it about the wooing process or an appointment with the magistrate? The only drawback is that it ends too soon. ‘New Jacket’ is quality Johnny Marr-esque twang work, all licks, kicks and flicks. There’s a formula in play throughout – clanging and chiming guitars, throbbing bass, the (garbled) vocals come in on cue, there’s minimal deviation with a wailing riff or heartfelt strum culminating in a flourish then THE END.  Repetitive but lasting.

Many of the finales could do with a stretching-out akin to those of Another Sunny Day or The Wedding Present, two bands who take songs and the listener somewhere and elsewhere, here, there and everywhere. The thunderous and spiralling ending to standout track ‘Jimmy’ perfectly illustrates this point.

This album has almost as much jingle jangle as Jimmy Saville’s jewellery box (not a euphemism). However, it’s impossible to escape the feeling that it’s all been done before and it doesn’t quite transcend its forebears (‘Chime Hours’ bears the fingerprints of The Field Mice and actually has legible lyrics “I’ve been waiting… I’m coming home”).  However, this is an infectious hook-laden head rush that flies by. Like their first release, this is a grower. Let it seep.

Chorus is out on 18th August via Slumberland Records.

Kemper Boyd