This record is, for me, an ode to Manchester, its warm and garish nature, its violence and humour, its nightlife, pretentions and earthly delights. Bingo, prison, money, Celtic-soul sounds, drugs and high living; the lushness and loucheness of Cottonopolis.
Spring Break sounds – and I’m sorry but you can blame the music for making me write this nonsense - like a load of Girl Scouts going on a soft metal camping holiday. It’s fantastic and basic and does what all great pop does, shakes you to the core with its ridiculously overheated, panting, doe-eyed, hateful simplicity.
In some ways this is a band that is coming to terms riding their own genre and decade-hopping sound. The record’s restlessness can be both its strength and its weakness, and there are times where you are wondering what is coming next but just enjoying the music for the hell of it.
So while it’s tempting to wonder what this back-to-basics rejection of innovation might mean, it makes far more sense to give in and simply enjoy what is almost certainly the best Magnetic Fields collection since… Bollocks. I thought I might be the first person this millennium to finish a review of a Magnetic Fields album without mentioning that record…
There’s folk, there’s rock, there’s psychedelia, there’s beauty, there’s noise, there’s sex, there’s gloom, there’s humour, there’s fun. It’s often over-the-top but sometimes perfectly restrained. It’s totally, gloriously, fucking nuts. And I nearly missed it.
While as an album it doesn't quite sustain in the same way, it does make for a fascinating companion piece to its predecessor, marking out a man who could so easily settle into a grizzled cliché pointedly refusing to do so.
Classic assertive and literate pop... not sure why it reminds me of the Wedding Present or The Bodines but it does and that’s me just showing my age.
In fact, if they’d have presented a less gauche vocal approach (I wish the vox were more assertive, frankly) then this disc would have been closer to the stuff on prime time talent shoes than the ideas espoused by Micachu or These New Puritans...
It’s pleasant and certainly toe-tapping but stuff like So Far Away is far too reminiscent of bands I listened to back in the mid ‘80s to make any sort of point to me as to why I should swap my old records for this.
It’s all straight forward stuff on one level and believe me it’s incredibly difficult to write any sort of review (on a purely musical level) to a record like this without waffling on about side issues or history or personalities blah blah - simply because the songs are pretty much all straight down the line punk rockers. And because ebverything is over so quickly.
I'm sure if this got played a lot on the radio it’d do really well, it’s not far off Dandy Warhol territory to be honest and I’d certainly rather listen to this on my transistor radio during my shift. Or maybe I’m getting my knickers in a twist. I’ll just enjoy it and keep playing it for now.
that’s what this LP is all about, being glossy, ridiculous, perfumed but elegant – acting out a part, made giddy by the possibility of high romance at any minute – yes with dirty fingernails and soiled cuffs but able to charm the preppy girl who’s just crossed the Place de République wearing shades and a miniskirt and with Le Grande Meaulnes tucked under her arm.
And, as befits two members of seminal Dutch avant garde band Minny Pops, we also get a Minny Pops track – Kogel – but one stripped of its icy punch and replaced with a sort of abstract, Arabic funk.
Tucker’s voice is the key throughout the record; it’s often pitched fairly high and the notes are held as long as possible as if to create a sort of monkish drone, a plainchant that also doubles as a sort of “troubadour’s lament” when needed.
This hazy, electronic number is fairly representative of the album's mood, but it is punctuated by the occasional spasm from a clap drum that hangs there, awkward as a fart in church and so many drum fills that you would swear you were listening to the chorus of “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins on repeat. Otherwise, it's a great song.
This album stretches the band’s musical talent and the entire album plays out more like a rock orchestra than a trio. They experiment with electronic melodies and even a retro Stylophone gets an airing on Doesn’t Believe in Angels.
This time Bowerbirds have been able to flex their muscle fully in regard to how they use their instruments and experiment with sounds. A throb of strings, horns and percussion in the likes of In the Yard and Death Wish make The Clearing their most colourful and sophisticated album yet.
Once again Sinead O’Conner has become something bigger and more profound than a news headline or a retweet.
Jordan Gatesmith does have the same indifference and gruff voice as the Strokes frontman, but that’s where the similarities end. Instead we’re transported to California , with surf rock riffs and high-spirited hand claps.