Friday, October 29, 2004

Album Review Compendium#1 (aka Kasabian fans! You Have Nothing To Lose But Everybody Else's Disdain!)

Say what you like about The Fiery Furnaces (and the NME did, giving their album 1 out of 10 and calling it the most aggravating record of all time), they certainly don't believe in playing by the rules. Releasing Blueberry Boat just ten months on from the release of their acclaimed debut and not including the single (Single Again) that preceded it was one thing (well, actually, OK, two things, pedants), making it a 80 minute epic starting with a ten-minute-plus track (Quay Cur) in which about seven distinct tunes fight for supremacy is altogether another journey into commercial suicide. 'Gallowsbird's Bark' may have divided opinion, but even lovers of that album have cited irreconcilable differences with the follow-up which has dispensed altogether with any pretensions to cute folksy tunefulness in favour of a whole different set of pretensions. Namely Matt's desire to replicate the rock operatics of The Who's more experimental phase, in a move that would make even Ann-Margret choke on her baked beans.

But is it any good? Fuck yes, this is The Fiery Furnaces, you had to ask? Get with the programme! Dead Kenny isn't saying this is the sanest, mosty coherent record ever made but there are more good bits on just one track than there is in whole albums by whatever idiots are in vogue these days. It's a record that doesn't just demand to be heard, it needs to be listened to, this isn't soundtrack music it's the whole fucking cinematic experience with crazy subplots and subliminal bits and of course Eleanor's voice providing the torch to guide you through the dark and sinister aisles.

More boy/girl dynamics can be found on the self-titled debut by The Dresden Dolls, which reverses the White Stripes mould by having a girl singer/multi-instrumentalist who enjoys messing around with the dressing-up box and her boyfriend who plays the drums. The record is handsomely-packaged in a black-and-white goth aesthetic, while musically they Brecht-and-Weill away their time in a manner that will appeal lots to fans of Regina Spektor and The Fiery Furnaces. So needless to say, I'm a big fan.

To Sweden next and Deep Cuts by The Knife a Stockholm based boy/girl duo who have sold 30,000 copies of this record back home, and with some decent airplay, could easily replicate that here. Although the lyrics and videos occasionally hint at more dark and subversive areas, this is electropop music with the emphasis on the pop as it is mostly insanely tuneful stuff, more Erasure than New Order, but the results are as refreshing as an honest politician. 'Heartbeats' reveals a band who've just discovered the steel drum FX on their keyboards and they're determined to use them, 'Pass It On' is cabaret for the 00s ('I'm in love with your brother/What's his name?') while 'Take My Breath Away' isn't a cover of the Berlin song but, meta than that, is a song about the Berlin song, and is as good a tune as anything Abba or Blondie managed in their heyday to boot. All this goodness isn't without its dangers, though: soon, girls dressing like boys dressing like Steve Strange will be acceptable again, and then we'll all be very sorry.

Where were we? Ah yes. Boys and girls. Sons And Daughters. The friends of Franz Ferdinand (not quite friends of Dorothy, but then again, who knows?) have released a mini-album called Love The Cup which, like a lot of people, we bought for Johnny Cash but seeing as he pegged it we kept it for ourselves. 'Johnny Cash' makes Dead Kenny want to dance in an awkward yet aggressive manner so it's just as well it's not on the jukebox at his local, while the rest of the album is more thoughtful and atmospheric, and not unlike obscure early 90s Edinburgh band Rote Kapelle. This cup doth overfloweth with promise, then.

The Rocks just about allow us to continue the old unisex theme on the tenuous basis of having a statuesque blonde for a rhythm guitarist. Asking For Trouble got 3/10 from NME 'sexpot' Tim Jonze who stated the band were terrible live and the lead singer was a liability. Parallax View begs to differ as we found them a brilliant live proposition, their singer is a star but the album is a bit pubrock in parts and, frankly, we've come across better produced material in Top Shop. We suspect Tim has personal issues with the singer (probably over a girl, you know what it's like at that age) and if it blinds him to the brilliance of a tune like 'Celeste' it's verging on gross misconduct. In contrast to The Fiery Furnaces, this isn't the most generous songwriting in the world, but even the poorest of their tunes manage to have at least one hook with which to grab your attention. Best to catch them live first, though, in my opinion, before investing in the record as a memento from a great night's entertainment.

More album reviews to follow over the weekend, because frankly, fireworks make us shit in our pants.


Post a Comment

<< Home