Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sweeping The Nation Albums Of 2009: Number 2

Andy Falkous became briefly notorious in September when his blog about Travels With Myself And Another leaking two months ahead of release, before the band had received their copies, was used in a UK Music advert against pirating and more broadly filesharing, which was printed right in the middle of the Featured Artists Coalition to-do. As righteous, funny, impassioned and magnificent as it was, it also did Falkous a massive disservice. After all, you'd like to think that people might at some point move on to caring broadly about the music, this uniquely, well, righteous, funny, impassioned and magnificent band like no other in Britain, perhaps the only NME adored band of recent years not to see any extra sales ora airplay out of it. Well, obviously they're never going to be for mass public consumption. Just too cussed, too obtuse, too full-on for mass consumption, and out of such tunnel-eyed vision of a singular art Falco has perhaps, taking nothing away from Kelson Mathais or Jack Egglestone, helmed the album of his storied career. While we evidently found an album more attuned to multi-layered greatness, we think this was the album we by far listened to most throughout 2009.

Now, what we could do at this point, especially now we've committed ourselves to making every one of these overviews longer than the previous one, is copy over a great wodge of Falco zingers, add "I think this is a very loud and very good album" to the end and go and do some ironing. After all, you cannot go into detail on an album like this. Not only would it constitute giving away the best lines, but it is what it is - 33 minutes of pretty much HGV hit riffs, drums and bass lines, finding a new way to express anger as an energy. It's an album full of moments, when the bludgeon force hits and when idea meets vocal mike. Arming Eritrea - the wrong way round, it turned out - sounding a little pensive as it works round a single figure to begin with? Well, that's quickly destroyed by huge, dirty stabs of guitar as Falkous slips into one of his perennial traits, addressing an unknown object by name (cf Emma on the surrealist Shellac of Stand By Your Manatee, whose parents use plastic forks), on manhood and not being a cynic, before drowning everything in a visceral tidal wave sweeping everything in its path away. As he screams over the deluge it sounds positively one man and his pedals industrial in its scope. We find him screaming his thorax out about after hours street fighting over tin can bee buzzing bass on Chin Music, then kicking in a pub stomp sea shanty singalong out of the words "come join, come join our hopeless cause" on The Hope That House Built as if it's a mantra for life. "In the end everybody wins"? You'd like to think so. Throwing Bricks At Trains (nearly the title of a Mclusky radio session-only obscurity, connections fans) introduces as our dramatis personae Reginald J Trotsfield and "his lieutenant, the fearsome Brown", small town small scale bored criminals whose titularly minded nights out are framed in repetitive knackered keyboard buzz and Kelson-led Big Rock harmony backing vocals. The actively scary Mathias is on his own mission to Valhalla throughout, riding the bumpiest of low down and dirty basslines throughout the Jesus Lizard backwards rush of Land Of My Formers ("when in Rome, remember home is always here for you") and actively disturbing Falco's delivery through synth low end like tectonic plate movement during You Need Satan More Than He Needs You. Given that song is about the twin simultaneous issues of active practice of occult ceremonies and modern parentage both takes some doing and seems quite fitting. Channelling the anger that only a band who barely half sell venues even in London for all the acclaim and Kings Reach Tower print, That Damned Fly utilises what Josh Homme used to term robot rock, a battery of monotonously churning riffage, to rip apart the Barfly chain and "greedy promoters... without the young and the desperate they won't have anyone else" with glee ("there must be a logic behind the madness/If it's financial then it's deeply flawed") That they can do that, and rumination on dinosaur sociology Yin/Post-Yin, and also Lapsed Catholics' monologue stream of conscious that starts by mixing up The Shawshank Redemption and Jacob's Ladder, describes Rupert Murdoch as Satan and gradually gives way to a wall of everything ("Be aware! Be alert!")... well, that's the measure of this remarkable band and album, a collective punch right in the kisser from a fearlessly powerful power trio, raging, melodically savage, cauterisingly dry, fat free, ferociously played. Glorious.


The Hope That House Built

The full list

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