Scrutinising end of year polls is the Christmas wrapping paper of indiepop: Inevitable, wasteful, essential and quickly discarded. Some elegantly tied with ribbon and bows, whereas most are bog-standard Tesco joblots with hodgepodge Scotch tape. It’s what is done with the ravaged remnants on Boxing Day which really matters. The correct thing is send it to the recycling man or horde in a drawer for prosperity, like grandad, but to do this with end of year polls would be appreciating The Big Fat Quiz of the Year returning, again.
NO WAY, screw you, live in the past eco lobby. 2010 is the cast of Skins getting the Clap and being replaced the bed wetting and frigid 2011. Fresh but inexperienced.
The clumsy foreplay of Boxing day has been pimped out with teasers to loosen the juices for two “major and eagerly anticipated” releases of 2011. Manchester groans with gratification at the discharge of Elbow and Beady Eye material on YouTube. The North can finally reclaim its virility which had been hustled by southerners with waistcoats and ukuleles or yanks with a hint of sunshine. Now, like the Sun page three returning on a Monday after two days away, the eyes of indie are ogling the city of ghosts.
Elbow- LIPPY KIDS
Lippy Kids is the first taste of Elbow’s forthcoming Build A Rocket Boys-(March 7th). It pays homage to the delicate history of melancholia with a background synth’ from Joy Division’s Atmosphere or any track from Spiritualised’s Pure Phaze, and borders on the Sigor Ros. A gentle whistling melody haunts between unmistakable pirouetting vocals with the ability to crescendo without epic pomposity. It shows Manchester as a fragile city, boarding an unsure future: As gentrification peaks, the cuts come. The tickets have been collected and upgraded to first class, but after tunnelling the indie scene and then embanked onto the mainstream, the sidings are avoided, but it’s hard to see who else is going to join. Lippy Kids is a chance to take stock and accept the North is cold, but under its serious exterior, this industrial power house has a human and warming heart. A port and lemonade to a Bombay Bomb.*
Beady Eye-FOUR LETTER WORD
I’m sorry but they are asking for it aren’t they. It’s a big red fucking button or Julian Assange with a secret file. I really want avoid using a “Four Letter Word”, artistic integrity says don’t do it, the writers book of music clichés even calls it a pariah. But I must…. NOEL….
This song is a cry for help from four kids whose best mate has got a girlfriend and may have touched a boob, while they’re getting cheap thrills from looking at a risqué She-Ork in the Dungeons and Dragons hand book. Noel must be laughing at his minions as they try and play grown up without him.
It’s directionless pub rock fodder from musicians who really should know better. Thousands of college bands have written this song in an attempt to keep it real and plods like a swagger-by-numbers dad rock cliché. If Elbow are the serious thinking side of Manchester, Four Letter Song is knickers around the ankles, lager and rose, slags ‘n’ lads swagger of a Manchester Saturday night. It’s everything you avoid on the way to the Star and Garter.
It is a very modern record though. It makes you reminisce about better times: Gordon Brown was alright in hindsight, as was The Hindu Times. Now we have a coalition of half arsed songs, the ego hungry and a fool: Andy Bell could have taken his leave, made up with Mark Gardner, reforming Ride to mass adulation and respect. All would have been forgiven. Instead he’s done a Clegg, given a chance and spoilt his respect. #andybellsfault
Four Letter Song appears on Different Gear, Still Speeding-(February 28th)
John Robb said about Manchester, “It’s a city of poets and outsiders, romantics and lunatics; it’s a city of high drama and great songs, bedsit poets and opinionated gobshites shouting from the everchanging rooftops.” (The North Will Rise Again, 1-2, Aurum Press, 2009), and we see from Elbow and Beady Eye that these essential contrasts are present and true: Guy Garvey being a romantic poet, and Liam Gallagher the lunatic gobshite. Their styles prove the everchanging nature of Manchester music, with Elbow being the cult band working to earn the mainstreams trust, and Beady Eye being the epitome of what was once great, fading and turning to parody.
One thing John Robb doesn’t convey about Manchester is beauty. Even the gentle rhythms of Elbow are rooted in misty industry rather than shimmering forestry. To add beauty to our lives we need to head south I’m afraid. It’s as if the M6 and M5 are there purely for the kick start of 2011 indiepop. If Boxing Day’s teasers have been the foreplay then the pre-Christmas release (December- 20th) of a new PJ Harvey track has been the date and the first kiss.
PJ Harvey- LAST LIVING ROSE
Reinventing herself again, this second preview of Let England Shake-(February 14th) see’s Polly as a traditional English songstress with a muted guitar reminiscent or the early 4 Track Demos. Gone are the extremes of the previous two LP’s, this is not a faded piano ballad nor a rawkus guitar fuck you. Instead we have a Lo-Fi Canterbury Tale complete with a mediaeval tribal drum intro. It shows an environment of simple pleasures free from the contradictions of the city. It’s a song of Southern beauty, of orchards and meadows. There’s nothing wrong with identifying the North South divide, even British Sea Power left the Lake District for Brighton.
We will have heard the first song from Let England Shake already. Written on the Forehead is a song like no other. The Lady of the Lake rising from Avalon handing us the New Sound without the Mighty Boosh funk. Full of Cocteau Twins ethereal vocals and subtle New York block party samples. Finally we are given an excuse to disregard all of 2010’s polls.
WRITTEN ON THE FOREHEAD
Written On The Forehead by pjharvey
Boxing Day’s tasters have shown us what’s in line for 2011 but it’s a sign of desperation releasing them today. The Elbow song is brilliant but by no means exciting or essential. The Beady Eye track is plain awful and neither would be of any note if it wasn’t for sites like The Guild avoiding TV and conversation all day, and paying attention to them. If this is the sound of 2011 than we as well be like grandad and horde those end of year polls.
I, however, have it down to the post Christmas, pre NYE lull, compared to the advent calendar excitement. Beforehand everything is exciting and the future is twinkle dust and spangly bubbles, whereas Boxing Day is the snowy sludge of worry before a major anticlimax. The taster we already had was flirting with the office temp’, exciting interesting and daring. Why spoil that with a drunken fumble with the cat lady in export at the office party. Keep your standards high. Keep PJ Harvey in your heart and ignore the Radio 1‘avin’ it large, shout outs from oop north.
The North will rise again, but not in 2011. Its merely giving a semi compared to the bulesque of Southern delights on offer.
*Bombay Saphire Gin and Jagerneister- shit yeah.