Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sweeping The Nation Albums Of 2009: Number 16

With the revival in the last couple of years as ‘indie’ in its original jangly form, and since Franz Ferdinand took what originally became known as The Sound Of Young Scotland to the dancefloor, there’s been a few Glasgow based bands – Bricolage, Butcher Boy, The Felt Tips, The Royal We – attempting to follow in the footsteps of arguably its greatest and most influential band, Orange Juice. Wake The President, the latest graduates from Stow College’s Electric Honey label that brought the world Snow Patrol, Biffy Clyro and most celebratedly Belle & Sebastian’s Tigermilk, manage it better than most because that’s not all there is to them.

While Bjorn Sandberg’s guitar work chimes and jangles with the best of them, creating a laidback, almost summery feel that recalls the Go-Betweens and Aztec Camera, the playful air is immediately undermined by the heavily accented cynicism and debauched poetry of Bjorn’s twin brother Erik. Mail, Alice starts with a big stomping drumbeat and intricate Smiths-esque riff before the scene setting opening line “cognitive therapy is what you need”. It goes on to sketch a bruised kiss-off, to a ex that turns an upset into self-loathing, that’s all being caught between the idea and reality of love. “Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery” Erik sings on Miss Tierney, almost begging to be quoted in reviews, but the yearning desire in the lyrics sidesteps the notion of straight ripoff as opposed to knowing tribute. Remember Fun? is perhaps where they hit their stride most fluently, classic jangling intelligent pop over which Erik sketches a lover - “lovely body, promiscuous mind” – who “made a mockery of my monogamy” on the way to aiding his reaching full levels of hedonism. “In a perverse way I’m kind of enjoying it/In another absolutely not”, as he surmises his lot. It’s not all Falling And Laughing nods by any means, though. Wake is a low key slow burner where the hingeing chorus lyric “I think about you all the time” eventually broadens to reveal this is now only a one-way feeling, while Just Give Me Two Secs is what would happen if Arab Strap reformed with Roddy Frame. It may not be an album hell bent on reinventing guitar pop as we know it, but in the hands of operators skilled at the comparatively simple things, and with a fresh way to tell personal tales, it proves after everything is said and done, it can still sound enthralling and intriguing. With Glasvegas charting the lowlifes and Franz busy partying uptown, the gap in the middle where Glasgow’s perenially hopeful but lovelorn lie has been filled.

This is an edited version of a review that originally appeared on The Line Of Best Fit


Remember Fun? (live)

The full list

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