OK, Zef's trying to get this new photo infrastructure in place, but its proving tricky. So no big wodge of photos just yet, Just one (cheers Rachel!). Anyway. Like I said, we had a great time last night in Cambridge, and would like to thank everybody involved.
I was a bit worried when Jeres rang me at 11am slurring violently and admitting to not having been to sleep yet. But Nosleepdrunk or no, dude played ace, and so did Jeres and Mary (who had slept, and weren't full of pop). Those that weren't there! You missed a bunch of songs that have never been played live like Giro and Thieving. Shit is sounding mad good with bass AND guitar. AND you missed a very hot crowd. AND you missed The Indelicates. Or is it Indelicates?
I don't know. Rude drunk Jeres accused Simon Indelicate of being a poor man's Luke Haines, which was both mean and partially inaccurate. The (is it "The" OR WHAT?!) Indelicates are so much more than that! They are amazing! I can't be bothered going into music journo mode right now, so I shall draw from The Svenhunter's Playlouder review of their debut LP, American Demo, which is out next week.
They’ve really gone for it here, have The Indelicates; this is a real event of an album. From the orchestral prologue echoing the epic, bitter love song at the centre (‘New Art For The People’), to the audacious and anthemic opener ‘The Last Significant Statement to be Made in Rock ‘n’ Roll’, to its sister song, the unruly climactic excellence called ‘We Hate The Kids’, and the touching, brittle epilogue, again recounting the central themes of love, music, and hope, (and sweeping up the shards of them): “the chilled wind blows the flyers past the stage doors where we stand /so much for you, so much for me, so much for undying loyalty / I sold you and you sold me, exactly as we planned”.
The journey takes us through an unlikely pairing of watertight guitar pop and bitter, witty satire; the target is society in general, but the music industry is never far away.
A post-feminist headache, Julia Indelicate’s ‘Our Daughters Will Never Be Free’ is over to soon, but packs so much weight into each sentence that it excuses its brevity:
“…have photographs taken to make us look dead… / lift up your top: got to use what you’ve got… / It’s all tongue in cheek anyway.”
‘Better to Know’ is a more relaxed affair altogether and sets the (uneven) pace of the album with a foot-tapping, hand-clapping condemnation of the ignorance-is-bliss attitude celebrated by pop music’s frequent adulation of vapid nonsense; “The truth’s a haunting, taunting mistress – she ain’t been good to me”, sings Simon Indelicate, yet insists it’s good to be aware of “the elephant in your living room, the fascist in your bed.”
Songwriting duties are shared more-or-less fifty-fifty and by the end of twin towers ‘Sixteen’ and ‘Julia, We Don’t Live in the Sixties’ (both singles), there’s already been enough to convince me of this album’s worth. Both work on several levels; the former celebrates and satirises rock ‘n’ roll’s impractical, unrealistic, often paedophilic obsession with youth (see also The Teenagers), and the latter laments the death of protest culture while claiming “We’ve never had it so good – life is sweet!”
Indeed. If things were wrong, surely people would complain? It’s like that hogwash adage: “If it was so important you wouldn’t have forgotten it.” Try telling that to anyone with Alzheimer’s.
The slower songs lack none of the punch of the poppier indie-disco fodder: take the opening line of 'Stars', par example: “I’m in love with the boy next door, he treats me like a filthy whore.” And then there’s the fanboy-baiting ‘If Jeff Buckley Had Lived’, a cruelly perceptive ‘What If…’ that beats any issue of the Marvel Comics series.
The fortunate truth is that everything here is noteworthy. These are songs that can be played again and again, and yet still surprise you. They’re songs you actually want to learn the words to. I mean, did you hear the recent single, ‘America’?
Perhaps it’s unfair to dwell on the lyrics. Inevitably you can’t make them out much live, and yet the one time I’ve seen The Indelicates live, the songs lost none of their arresting nature, their power, simplicity and perfect crafting. (And the band’s fantastic.) The dual/duel verses of ‘New Art For The People’ and the respective poetry of guitar, piano, and voices form a love song that makes you want to vomit, though not for the usual reasons. It’s a ‘Fairytale of New York’ for the 21st century, and an all-encompassing summary of the album's critique of the rock 'n' roll game.
Julia’s voice is at its best here, breaking from the pop-perfect sweetness-and-light and revealing a more powerful side. Simon’s recalls their admitted (indeed oft-repeated) influences of Carter USM and The Auteurs. In fact, it’s safe to say that if you hate those bands, or hold any particular grudge against indie music in the 90s, you’ll have trouble with The Indelicates.
Having just read Carter USM’s autobiography (‘Goodnight Jim Bob’), it’s really quite clear what a laughably horrific thing the music business is, and in some ways the bizarre major-label presence of bands like Carter was probably a significant part of the journey to where we are now, wherever that is. Could Carter be big today? Who knows. Art Brut are on Mute, but EMI (accidentally) release their singles.
The Indelicates will release ‘American Demo’ (named because (and I’m paraphrasing here) “that’s what every UK indie debut is”) on Weekender Records, after a few singles on their own label. Weekender Publishing commences trading this year too. As far as I’m aware none of the big boys have snapped up the label yet, and whether or not they’d go anywhere near The Indelicates is anybody’s guess.
And yet the fact remains that these songs are some of the most radio-friendly savage attacks on the UK music industry to date.
Pretentious perhaps, but it’s a good argument for aiming high, and accepting disappointment as an inevitability of an artistic endeavour, as opposed to aiming low, and avoiding it: “It’s better to know”, indeed.
It could be said that we’ve heard a lot of it before, (not least because versions of about 8 tracks were previously released), but the production work is strong as Araldite (actually, I can never get Araldite to work, let’s say superglue). And this concentration of passion and song writing prowess is all too uncommon.
The punchy, piano-driven bass line that heralds the arrival of last track proper, ‘We Hate The Kids’, quakes like the cup of water in Jurassic Park as the Tyrannosaurus Rex approaches, and the climax is breath-taking, (though perhaps I’ll stop quoting their post-modern observational black comedy as it works better with accompanying music).
This is an important album – nothing and nobody will convince me otherwise.