Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sweeping The Nation Albums Of 2006: Number 18

Art school, see

Let's get it out of the way early doors, shall we? Yes, the living ghosts of Black, Santiago, Deal and Lovering do stalk the foundations of the Victorian English Gentlemens Club's sound - the melody-driving basslines, the female response to male vocal calls, the disjointed drumming, the one-string riffing. It's territory that's been covered before and will be again. What makes TVEGC stand out is that at its core it takes the unsettling bits of post-punk art-rock - off kilter rhythms, guitars twisting themselves inside out, time signatures all over the place - and gives them a renewed urgency and drive of their own.

Impossible Sightings Over Shelton is the purest distillation of what we mean - guitars of Pink Flag, rhythm from next door to Bone Machine, but it churns like a gas centrifuge while Adam Taylor's pained, nearly panicked vocals suggest clearly something disturbing is being suggested, which makes sense when you learn it's about his time cleaning in a mental hospital and observing the patients constantly looking out of the windows. The lyrics deserve such intriguing surroundings, at first cryptic sounding to the untrained ear (er, please refer to our interview with them at this stage) but further listening reveals a litany of near pitch black causes that refer to alcoholism, dyslexia, stillborn babies and, in the case of the remarkable rattling, barely controlled chaos of Ban The Gin, an actual 18th century attempted ban of gin sales. It's reflected in the awkward, often bass-prompted music, at times feeling as if everyone is playing against and off each other simultaneously. Stupid As Wood and My Son Spells Backwards both open, in different ways but to the same enthralling effect, with a Kim Gordon-esque meatily prominent bassline before the guitar slash right across and attempt to race away with it, while Such A Chore estimates the sound of the Cramps produced by Clinic. Not that there aren't hooks and choruses in there, they're just carefully disguised, no better than in closer Cannonball which throws in squelching synths and a melody that seems to start in three seperate places but finds a way to knit itself together before a madly discordant solo. Slashing all this together has failed many a band, so much so that that the Victorian English Gentlemens Club have at the very least been within touching distance of fulfilling the promise of their emergence at the end of last year is a cheering realisation.

LISTEN ON: Under The Yews
WATCH ON: Impossible Sightings Over Shelton video; The Tales Of Hermit Mark live
NOT WANTING TO BLOW OUR OWN TRUMPET, BUT...: We ask the badly worded questions, the band remain quite civil considering
READ ON: Penny Black Music's own primer

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