Saturday 16 April 2022

Wet Leg

 "The most hotly anticipated album of the year" may be an over used cliche, but in the case of Wet Leg after the singles "Chaise Longue", "Wet Dream", "Too Late Now", "Oh No" and "Angelica" it's a cliche that fits.  And now it's here - was it worth the anticipative waiting?

On first listen, the album comes over as a bit insubstantial - nice enough, but nowt to really rave about.  And then listen again and more is revealed.  The intricacy of the instrumentation, to joy and exuberance of the songs, the underlying enjoyment and fun, the way the voices work together, the wit and story in the lyrics (and a bit of near filth and some naughty words).

It's one of those "play and lose yourself in the world for 40 minutes" jobs.

Seamlessly mixing 80s pop, high energy dance, post-punk, dreamy pop, and anything else that happens to fit, this is a collection of songs written and performed for fun - and the enjoyment is there for all to hear.  What comes out is proof that "Chaise Longue" - which continues to dig itself into my head on each hearing and refuse to leave - was not a mere novelty but one piece of the jigsaw.

The aforementioned singles are present and correct, along with 7 more tracks which would be just as capable as single releases.  "Being In Love", "Loving You", "Supermarket", and closer "Too Late Now" being the pick for me at the moment, but the other tracks are not far behind.

One can't help but wonder if it might be a case of too much too soon with this accomplished debut - time will tell.  But for now: "Was it worth the wait?"  Abso-bloomin-lutely.

Being In Love

Wet Dream

Loving You

Thursday 7 April 2022

Chris Pope & Chords UK / Len Price 3 / Block 33

 A tale of 3 Mod albums:

  • Chris Pope & The Chords UK - Big City Dreams
  • Len Price 3 - Ip Dip Do
  • Block 33 - The Day The World Stood Still

All recently released, all independently/self-funded, and all steaming with energy.

"Mod" may actually be the wrong term, but it's an apposite catch-all for the attitude and sounds spewing forth from the grooves of these 3 albums (or more correctly the collection of 0s and 1s flying from the silvery 5" disc)

Chris Pope & The Chords UK

First up, the old stager of the bunch - Chris Pope was the guitarist and songwriter of The Chords - one of the recognised leading Mod Revival groups of 1979.  In truth, there was more to The Chords songs than merely "Mod" but it was a convenient, relevant tag and alignment.
The Chords fell apart in the early 80s after a clutch of (sadly underperforming chart-wise) singles and a single album 'So Far Away'.  Chris Popes keen songwriting continues, and now with a re-configured Chords UK, he continues to deliver quasi-folk tales from South London with a biting (and sometimes resigned) edge.
This album is the third Chords UK release, and ranks happily alongside previous (plus the 3 solo Chris Pope albums), and contains many songs that are likely to become mainstays of live outings.
"Listen To The Radio", "Last Great Rock Star" and "Hey Kids Come The Revolution" fire open proceedings with a burst of 60s RnB meets Punk meets Power Pop (I'm being constrictive there, the music is a wider church than I'm suggesting).
"Down And Out In New York City" has an autobiographical edge recounting the final days of The Chords, before the reflective and rousing closer "Great Expectations".
"Keep Calm & Carry On" is sage advice, so I'll keep calm and carry on listening to this album.

Len Price 3 - Ip Dip Do

Similarly, the Mod tag may not be 100% true for Len Price 3, but again it just fits.  They blend 60s Garage, The Who, Psychedelia, The Clash, The Ramones, and a short, sharp kick and lush, infectious melodies.
The songs are there for listening to and being entertained by - not for looking deeper for a message.  Some of the titles are worth the entry fee alone - "Chav Squad", "Mr Spongs Miraculous Leap", "Billy The Quid", "Raven At My Window" - and then the songwriting and playing delivers on the top.
Seven albums in and the quality and energy remains at the highest level.  It might all be over in just half an hour which gives enough normal listening time to play it again ... and again, and again.

Block 33 - The Day The World Stood Still

New boys Block 33 are still waiting to play their showpiece debut album launch gig at the 100 Club.  The debut album came out just as the world went into lockdown, meaning the launch gig was delayed to MAy 2021, and then further delayed until after the release of their second album.
Annoying, but now they've got an even bigger set of songs to draw on, and these new ones are every bit as vital as their charged debut.
Take all them lazy references above, and add a bit of Oasis-ish Britpop and a touch of Arctic Monkeys into the mix, and Mod (and Block 33 definitely identify as Mods) is in rude health.
From instrumental opener "Battle Cry" through "Better Tell The Devil", "Away Day, "Broken By Design" and "Changes" the energy and commitment rarely subsides.  And this is tempered by a change of pace in tracks like "The Devils Silhouette" and "Escape Route".  On first hearing, lead single "The Girl In The Yellow Jackie Dress" is ripe for 6Music - I have let Steve Lamacq know on their behalf (but he never replies)

In summary, if there was a festival bill featuring those 3 (ModFest?) alongside From The Jam, Ocean Colour Scene, Secret Affair and The Purple Hearts, then I would be (to misuse a similie) as happy as Jimmy.

Chris Pope & The Chords UK - Keep Calm And Carry On

Len Price 3 - She Came From Out Of The Sun

Block 33 - The Girl In The Yellow Jackie Dress