The last song, Love Connection is described in the sleeve notes thus; “Love Connection is a cover of a Parenthetical Girls song, which features a sparse, Congolese influenced arrangement that Ashworth (that's Mr. Casiotone to you, folks) created while acting as a guest member of the band”. This is the one about menstrual fluids by the way. It's great.
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone – Etiquette
Oh boy oh boy, this is a cracker of a month for quiet and self-reflective albums. And I suppose this release is one of the main reasons. I don't know about you, but I am suffering a veritable overdose of this kind of music, even if it is as good as the stuff on this album. Next month I promise to start listening to some loud brainless noise. Still, there's plenty on Etiquette that's not straight sensitive EMO stuff. There's a song about menstrual fluids, if you please...
It all starts very quietly with a voice telling us we are listening to Etiquette by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. Then it's a big Money Mark-style beat and we are introduced to New Years Kiss, a story of sleeping around which sounds very depressing (given the hung over voice and the tale of walking through deserted streets). Young Shields is more upbeat in tempo and attitude, oh hang on, he's asking his parents for money... There is certainly a very wry sense of humour at work here. Sonically there's a build up of effects and Casio sounds that gives the track quite a tough sound at the track's close.
I Love Creedence is a letter to whoever type of track about a girl - and by implication a set of confessions about the narrator - set off against a beautifully stark, almost monochromatic backdrop. We are soon to feel some warmth, for Nashville Parthenon starts like Kraftwerk's Hall of Mirrors (albeit on a Casio) and is another love confession. Somehow the singer's lugubrious tones lend a weary charm to a subject which, if handled with less aplomb, would have me stomping off to the nearest building site (just so I could listen to some discordant, heathen noise). There's a lovely slide guitar break in the middle eight that compliments the bleeping synthesizer noises and hints at all kinds of stuff, but mainly John Shuttleworth. It's fantastic. Scattered Pearls carries on the Electro Pop vibe. Vocal duties on this track are passed over to a cutesy girl (judging by the sound of her voice, she must have pigtails), who – despite her cuteness, seems to be telling a very rude story. The chord structures and electro drum-beat can claim comparison with mid 80s New Order at times (albeit New Order on a Casio).
Onwards and upwards to the next track, dear reader! Happy Mother's Day is a story about an angry mother, accompanied by recorders (I think they are recorders, but it could be Casio recorder sounds). Holly Hobby is a duet that is about some poor girl called Holly. It's a bittersweet set of observations on how cruel young love can be. Next up we have a jaunty number called Cold White Christmas; a morose but charming plod which boasts a beautiful toy piano part tinkling away in the background. Yet again it's a song about a lonely girl. This guy has a lot of girls to sing about I can tell you. I'm convinced he's a Samaritan.
Bobby Malone Moves Home is a strangely affirmative paean to a mate, (I say strangely affirmative because the list of things Mr Malone seems to have done whilst in exile sound routinely depressing, not to say downright idiotic). The piano run, similar to Imagine plods on encouraging more lists of Mr Malone's misdemeanours to be revealed. A very sombre song is revealed in Don't They Have Payphones Wherever You Were Last Night. The lugubrious nature of the rest of the album is stripped away, revealing a real tear jerker. The last song, Love Connection is described in the sleeve notes thus; "Love Connection is a cover of a Parenthetical Girls song, which features a sparse, Congolese influenced arrangement that Ashworth (that's Mr. Casiotone to you, folks) created while acting as a guest member of the band". This is the one about menstrual fluids by the way. It's great.
Ignore my clever-clever remarks in this review. This is an album not to be missed.
Words: Richard Foster.