Monday, October 31, 2005

record round-up

A quick round up of records which I haven't got round to talking about:

Field Music – Field Music
I've been really obsessing over the details in this lovely record since I bought it a month or so ago; it's perfectly executed, a gentle, pristine pop record with strong echoes of Steely Dan and XTC. Every song is a complicated gem, bursting with interesting melodies, impossibly sweet chord changes and the same geordie lilt that makes The Futureheads and Maximo Park so enticing. It's the kind of record which is so subtle and lovely you start to really worry for their future – Field Music are the kind of band who could slip under while less deserving band claim attention. This record proves they don't deserve to.

The Fall - Fall Heads Roll
Which is certainly the best Fall record in many years, possibly since the early 90s. For the first time in an age, Mark E. Smith's boys really sound like a band, and Smith's willingness to let some of his younger colleagues contribute songs which fearlessly deviate from the Fall sound (some are improbably melodic, although Smith's vocals are not) sounds positively revolutionary given that progression is not quite what one associates with Peel's fave band – Mark E. Smith did after all proclaim that the ethos of his band was the three 'R's – repetition, repetition and repetition. Here The Fall sound energetic, youthful even. 'Blindness', with it's savage churning bassline, really is up with the group's very best songs. 'What About Us', meanwhile, finds Smith aggrieved that, er, Harold Shipman wasn't a bit more generous when he was handing around the morphine – the chorus is a wondeful chant of "What about us, Shipman?". Only MES.

Rakes – Capture/Release
A surprising record this, because on first lesson it sounds kind of impressive, until you dig a little deeper and find there's nothing there. I picked this up the same day I got Art Brut's magnificent debut album, and it speaks volumes that I took this long to mention it. In fact, it's a record which, a couple of admittedly great songs aside, I've really come to dislike. It's odd, because 'Strasbourg', with it's bleak soundscape and (for once) interesting lyrics ("I'll meet you in West Germany / October 1983") and the super-immediate '22 Grand Job' are super. But the problem is, in affecting a comparable tone to that employed by Art Brut's Eddie Argos, (ie – snotty indie brats writing about their lives) Rakes completely fail where Art Brut suceed; they don't manage to be likeable. The lyrics are fatuous, unimaginative and absurdly sexist - what a bunch of dickheads. That, coupled with the suspicion that, having written a couple of great singles they didn't bother much with the rest, makes for a distinctly underwhelming debut. A shame.


Blogger Ben said...

Oh dear, here we go again with the "Jonathan writes about album, Ben's ears prick up" thing...

The Field Music album really intrigues me - all it took was Paul Smith of Maximo Park to wax lyrical in that recent issue of NME I wrote about to arouse my interest.

As for The Rakes, they were underwhelming at Glastonbury - no identity they could call their own. Which is why I've been surprised by quite how rapturously the album has been received. Could it really be that special? I doubt it.

10:58 pm  

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