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   Tuesday, November 22, 2005  
Here's to shutting up...*

It must be so much easier being in a purely instrumental band, don't you think? With one bound you're freed from the pesky pitfalls of lyric-writing (cliche, pretension, triteness) and no-one's going to be able to say - a la Bright Eyes, Joanna Newsom, Clap Your Hands, etc - 'Sorry, but I just can't get past that voice'. Also, there's probably rather less chance of any 'I'm the frontman'/ego-type situations developing; it's all for one and one for all.
But there are drawbacks like possibly ending up in a state of depersonalized anonymity - but hey! that hasn't harmed Sigur Ros any. And, from a reviewing perspective, without words and voice there's no easy way in, no obvious clues to what they're getting at...unless, of course, the band makes it easy.. by not really getting at anything very much, just navel-gazing in an atmospherically rockin' kind of Saxon Shore do on The exquisite death of Saxon Shore.
In which five guys in jeans and somewhat tired Converse footwear (OK, I'm guessing here) play soaring instrumental rock using all the usual rock band instruments. There's no icy minimalism. Trendy industrial electronica? Well, a there's a gentle frosting which is always swiftly swamped by The Rock. No, for those seeking a bit of sonic envelope-pushing it's off to The Wire with you pronto for here be - dread word! - melody. And happily (from this blog's perspective at least) Saxon Shore get to the point quickly and then don't labour it. Of the ten tracks on The exquisite death of.. most come in at around four minutes, ending purposefully and with all temptation towards indulgent longeurs being most excellently resisted.
Frankly, there's not a huge amount to be said. Producer Dave Fridmann (Wheat, F.Lips, Cotton Mather,etc) imports a dash of Postal Service-y studio noise into the relentlessly tuneful emo-prog stew which is awash with rippling keyboards, clanging, crashing guitars and much general swooshing and soaring. Has 'air drumming' been invented yet? If not, reallyrather claims it here; numbers like Marked with the knowledge and With a red suit you will become a man certainly demand plenty of arm room. No, you can basically slice this highly serviceable record anywhere you like and be sure of reward. And to anyone who says, 'Look, isn't this just Vangelis with big guitars and big drums?' reallyrather stiffens the intellectual sinews and says.. shut up!

'We don't want to be rock in any way. There's no electric guitar, no jamming': The Boy Least Likely To's 'shady rock past', pseudonyms and impractical D-I-Y dreams revealed in The Times last weekend...[interview]

...and The Boy would seem to be at similar point on the career arc as the also not-very-rock Magic Numbers were at this time last year, popping up at little venues around London before stepping things up at Bush Hall next Feb (just as the Numbers did this past Feb). So, look for a headline date at somewhere like The Forum around June time and, if re-releases are eligible, a place alongside Kate Bush, Vashti Bunyan and the Arctic Monkeys on the Mercury Prize 2006 shortlist the month after...

Meanwhile, reallyrather suggests you let these folks entertain you:
Emmy the Great / My party is better than yours [mp3][site]
Blood on the Wall / Reunite on ice [mp3][site]
..and pretty much anything by..
Cars Can Be Blue - provided that is you can enjoy lyrics like:
You are my favourite fucking retard
Don't let anyone put you down
'Arf, 'arf...

   posted by SMc at 2:35 PM |