Thursday, December 23, 2010
Sweeping The Nation Albums Of 2010: Number 9
While most discussion at the time on the second Indelicates album revolved around their Corporate Records pay-what-you-want scheme, it served to obfusticate the work of a band that need writing about, and writing about them is something that people manage well enough on their behalf. Fearsomely, fearlessly intelligent, musically opaque, bound to critical study and poetic darkness, proudly anti-mainstream mores and outlets, they're the whole package, every declaration, artwork and special edition designed to set them apart.
If American Demo was basically Luke Haines produced by Jim Steinman, Songs For Swinging Lovers, recorded in a former radio station in east Berlin, is more slippery, from huge guitar anthems to Kurt Weill cabaret. Lyrically, though, it still focuses on much the same critical targets as the first album - personal politics, media, feminism, the music industry, class, irony, liberal hypocrisy, doomed love and its place in the social strata. There'll always be that distinct lack of pandering to the greater commercial good or pulling punches, evident straight from the opening Europe, laden with heavy irony in its salutes to high society. Flesh opens "hey girls, let's see if we can bring out the rapists in the new man" and then turns out to be quite pitiful and baleful over a lilting piano-led melody, skewering "beauty isn't truth, it's just youth, it's adaptive and it's elastic" before ending in the world's most ironic torch song ballad ending. Ill crows "you'll never fashion your damaged soul because you're too clever to lose control". 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's "charming men in uniform". We Love You Tania is an affectionate tribute to Patty Hearst. Savages might be the ur-Indelicates song, both celebrating their status outside the modern mainstream and simultaneously questioning whether there really is justification for it if that is the case. Only they could write 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. If it's social satire in something of a modernity vacuum, it's also romantic and (more often than not) dark humouredly bileful at the same time, laying out their personal charter in a realist's world.
The full list