Morton Valence – Me & Home James

London exerts a considerable force on this record; it could be made in no other city.

There are a lot of very iffy “show tune” bands floating about at the moment; Roxy-lite, trying to kid grizzled people like me that they’re independent, but only concerned with preaching emotions over math-rock arrangements that are “just so”. They’re all a bit Brucie, a bit Doctor Who, a bit too Tommy Steel and not enough Tony Hancock (if you get my drift): all a bit redolent of nation at ease with itself, entertainment-wise. And a bit too much like those bloody continuity ads you get on the Beeb, lots of gushing, lots of teeth, lots of torsos acting. I can’t abide them.  I wish they’d all go away.  Luckily we have Morton Valence, who are possibly London’s greatest bedsit cabaret. If I may slip in another band here - purely to strengthen their case not to steal their thunder - there’s Morton Valence and Bow Mods who for my money can do this literate, slightly acerbic urban pop properly & honestly. Others should take note, or bugger off. 

Me & Home James  is a new record, but there are a number of old classics (well classic for the hundred or so people who bought them at the time): Man on the Corner comes on like a Velvet Underground outtake, and Sailors is still the most affirmative of pop songs; that organ coda is still inanely, ridiculously catchy. Elsewhere we get a guided tour along the byways of London’s lesser psychic arteries: the whole record is redolent of doing nothing in Crouch End or Camberwell. Very Robyn Hitchcock… Or remembering what you did at a party in Islington back in 1991, and how you wish you’d have spoken to that bloke who’s now running the Guradian (sic) Sport section and how you could be living in style in Clerkenwell.

London exerts a considerable force on this record; it could be made in no other city. Morton Valence are brilliant at chronicling the place’s integral ennui, anger and loneliness, they sugar coat it in the softest melodies (such as These Are the Things You Were Thinking Of…, Woman In The Window). They’ve been reading V.S. Pritchett… it’s that classic “British” thing of making miniatures in song and word. It’s that classic London thing of wanting to have a fresh take on the Continental, Left Bank attitude at all times… With tracks like Me & Home James, or If You Are the River, The ‘Valence come across as outsiders in their own manor. And just so you don’t drift off to a pleasant reverie, the one sore thumb track Red Rock Mountain is a great wake-up call – despite me still wondering what the Richie Valence impression is all about, here.

Get this, grey urbanites!