Sunday, April 18, 2010

Indelicates' sounds of thunder

The showy elephant in the die-hard muso room in all discussion of The Indelicates' Songs For Swinging Lovers is that it inaugurates their Corporate Records strategy with a pay-what-you-want scheme. This is the sort of new sales policy that tends to take up as much as half of reviews of any albums such sold, so for sake of the music we'll let you read up about it. Although you'd need the sales link first.

Let's talk about the Indelicates instead, because they need writing about, and written about is something that people manage well enough on their behalf. As we said when reviewing American Demo, they tend to cause bloggers to write in a high minded, intrinsically wordy way that rarely gets brought out for other people's music. It's as if people are trying to catch up. Fearsomely, fearlessly intelligent, musically opaque, bound to critical study and poetic darkness, proudly anti-mainstream mores and outlets, they are, it's fair to say, the most unlikely recipient of more than one page of tagged news articles on Digital Spy. The Indelicates are the whole package, every declaration, artwork and special edition of the album designed to set them apart.American Demo, in capsule, was the Auteurs, late on when Luke Haines really did have no kind words for those around him

in the firmament, produced by Jim Steinman. Songs For Swinging Lovers is more genre unspecific, from huge guitar anthems to Weill cabaret - Julia has mentioned that these songs were written more with musical cabaret in mind. Lyrically, though, it still focuses on much the same critical targets as the first album - personal politics, media, feminism, the music industry, class, irony, hypocrisy, doomed love. There'll always be that distinct lack of pandering to the greater commercial good or pulling punches, evident straight from the opening Europe, not only their attempt to write a song about every great land mass in the world (that's what Simon said at our gig, and you trust him, don't you?) but laden with heavy irony in its salutes to high society. Flesh is actively vicious underneath a lilting piano-led melody. It might be hard to believe from a song which opens "hey girls, let's see if we can bring out the rapists in the new man", but while a blood sister to Our Daughters Will Never Be Free in its degredation of modern ideas of female empowerment it's not as directly angry, more pitifully baleful before it gets to "take a knife to me, scar my snatch into a smile/strip me out, dissect me, milk my tears and tap my bile... beauty isn’t truth, it’s just youth, it’s adaptive and it’s elastic", ending in the world's most ironic torch song ballad ending. Ill returns to the cult of the damaged, crowing "You know you’re too clever to be mentally ill/You'll never fashion your damaged soul/Because you’re too clever to lose control". Roses shows they can do a proper murder ballad, and obviously they do it a lot more elegantly, graphically and with an undercurrent of disgust than most. (There's also a tremendous clanging bridge which includes the contents of actual abandoned tapes they found in the ex-East German radio station they recorded the album in) Be Afraid Of Your Parents is properly Threepenny Opera, Simon in full rolled-r's ravishing mode railing against the language of the far right "charming men in uniform". We Love You Tania follows Unity Mitford into the world of tribute songs to antiheroes, here Patty Hearst (and that sample photo will look familiar to anyone who saw their recent tour poster).

Only the Indelicates could nowadays write a song like Savages, another you and I against the world as we saw it song both celebrating their status outside the modern mainstream and simultaneously questioning whether there really is justification for it if that is the case, or Jerusalem, a jaunty almost Britpoppian evisceration on the youth scene that celebrates itself that pointedly, and far more timely then they could have expected, remarks on "how it seems rebellious to vote Conservative now", seeming to answer Blake's rhetorical question firmly in the negative.

Anthem For Doomed Youth goes on to centralise the ire, locating what happens when there's nothing worth fighting against and hence nothing worth fighting for. Maybe that's why the Indelicates exist and thrive, as something to hook on to in the lack of anything your Facebook group starting brethren are willing to get directly behind. If it's social satire in a vacuum, it's very well aimed as something to say for the few that will end up listening (no sales budget beyond word of mouth, remember), romantic and (more often than not) dark humouredly bileful at the same time, laying out their personal charter in a realist's world.

Their (Simon's, to be exact) long talked about next project, as mentioned in the last non-special track? David Koresh Superstar. Of course.

While you're over at Corporate Records, why not give a little time, possibly followed by money, to Indelicates full band member Lily Rae's Oh No...? She's a bolshy 19 year old from Brixton whose father fronted a band which featured Dave Allen (Gang Of Four, Shriekback), which tells you nothing about what she sounds like but fills out a sentence. What she sounds like is Kirsty Maccoll circa They Don't Know - right down to the Stiff Records new wave influence - with a heavy grudge and a good working knowledge of Morrissey, and this is all a very good thing. If she gets big, someone will compare her to Lily Allen. Someone will very shortly afterwards have to die. This is the Myspace, and this is thirty seconds of a song in that quite nice Corporate Records player.

1 comment:

Chris Holland said...

Superb album, superb band.

I was, to be honest, not expecting the album versions to compare to hearing the songs live, but it is simply an undeniably great album.

Nice Try, Radio