If Joseph Coward’s first album (2014’s self-reflexively titled The World Famous…) addressed crises of faith, redemption and an ultimate deal with God then this follow-up raises the stakes by articulating themes of rejection, unhappy finality, new beginnings, lamentable actions and political activism.
This Summer saw Coward (bravely) gatecrash the boot-staring Ride’s set at Field Day brandishing a Palestinian flag to protest about the band’s decision to play in the contested “Holy Land”. They did. Dirty ca$h prevailed.
Kicking off with the haunting, filmic and traumatic ‘Necrosis’, the song exhibits a c-change in Coward’s delivery, more gruff and bluff, he’s clearly had enough. Is he the pro/ant-agonist?
‘Tales Of The Dead’ begins with mellow cello wailing and flailing with half-strained vocals that evoke Morrissey at his most diffident and “hell-bound”, a glance backwards without remorse, a looking forwards without recourse (or tears): “That was last time I was forgiving, here’s to living”. Amen.
Prosperity beckons, Coward reckons and he exhorts and imports it thus in ‘(I Found Something New) Under The Sun’ and the jaunty monochrome (scene) set(ting) ‘Peanut Girl’, whose climax leaves “you” hanging… on… his… every… word…
The provocatively wry ‘Coming Down’ with its name-calling and rile-rousing rib-digging leads into ‘Donkey Boy’, which channels New Wave era Luke Haines – albeit less scabrous (on this occasion).
The wondrous singalong chorus of ‘I Know That Face All Too Well’ oozes Morrissey-ilisation; self-doubt of self-image, the security of insecurity abounds. The reflection mirrors actualisation.
The screeching and beseeching ‘Weight’ features the once young sonic auteur Thurston Moore, a recent immigre to London’s “hip and radical” climes, here sprinkling his “100% kool thing” to proceedings. Coward (be)moaning those that take, ever on the make, for pity’s sake, pleading “string me up”.
From the commune to the communal this is a(nother) sincere, mature and reflective album from Coward, (n)ever more comfortable in the skin he’s in. A meditation on the seduction of “life’s lottery”, grand rewards predominantly illusory, baseless and ridden with false idols.
All (wo)men, take a look at your lives, this JC’s only 24 and there’s so much more.
Win Big Prizes is out now via Stiffy Byng.