Euros Childs - Chops

"It would not surprise me at all if, in twenty years time, someone hears Gorky's Zygotic Mynci for the first time and proclaims them as one of the great lost bands. There will follow reissues and interviews and the inevitable question: why weren't they loved more widely at the time? "

Euros Childs – Chops


 


It would not surprise me at all if, in twenty years time, someone hears Gorky's Zygotic Mynci for the first time and proclaims them as one of the great lost bands. There will follow reissues and interviews and the inevitable question: why weren't they loved more widely at the time? Well, the reason will lie as much with the band (currently taking a break) as with the public at large, never mind that the latter chose the lumpen Manics and the overrated Catatonia as their Welsh bands of choice. Gorky's were never a straightforward proposition. They were capable of putting their minds to creating whatever kind of song they wanted: beautiful pop songs stuffed full of gorgeous harmonies, stomp-along rock numbers and melancholy piano led tales of sadness and woe. But then there was the other stuff – the weirder moments that might have lost their prominence as their career progressed but which probably caused them to be seen as a bit weird and a little bit outre for most tastes. And I'm sure the band knew this. If you wanted to cover a selection of their songs and do them as straight rock/pop efforts you would have a number one hit on your hands. But the Gorky's could never do such a thing themselves: it just wasn't in their make-up. Now we have the solo album of the man behind most of band's songs and one wonders if he is going to have a stab at earning some coin by reining in those more outlandish moments.


 


It doesn't take long to discover the answer. Chops opens with Billy the Seagull, a brief and simple song about – well, Billy the Seagull. The animal theme continues with Donkey Island, a song about – well, an island of Donkeys. "Donkeys are like you and me / They like to love and swim in the sea." This is an example of what Euros does so well – it is a ridiculously upbeat and catchy song. In fact it feels like a pop song crossed with the music from a Japanese arcade game and the song makes about as much sense as you might expect from such a collision. Dawnsio Dros Y Mor is the sort of sing-a-long song that you feel Childs could probably write in his sleep (this is not to say that the song is any the worse for this). Slip Slip Away is another brief throwaway track – badly recorded, badly sung and pretty pointless. Costa Rita is a laid back doo-wop pop song full of charm – simple and summery and with engagingly faux-naif lyrics. This is followed by the first of three brief tracks littered throughout the remainder of the album, Stella is a Pigmy. Great title but again they only clutter things up. Elsewhere on the album there are more pop songs, a jokey stab at a country track and Circus Time, a song very reminiscent of the Gorky's at their most downbeat. Voice, piano and violin combine to give the impression of walking under streetlights on a wet winter's night. The standout track however is First Time I Saw You. This kicks off with a violent keyboard squidge that goes nowhere - it just repeats and repeats and once again resembles something from an old computer game. Over this Euros sings a simple tune that seems completely incongruous given the keyboard hammering away. Then other instruments enter the fray – a simple synth line, a twinkling xylophone and then a banjo. All the while the keyboard squidges away but it increasingly appears to fade from view as more and more layers are added. The way that the song builds and builds makes it resemble Jim O'Rourke's take on Women of the World from his Eureka album. After about four minutes the drums kick in and we're still only half way though it.


 


There is then very little difference between Euros Childs' debut album and the work of Gorky's. It is filled with some great songs and there continues to be something childlike about the whole enterprise. It is also a bit maddening in parts and I am reminded of the character that narrates Losing My Edge when he talks to Captain Beefheart and tells him not to do it that way as he'll never make a dime. I hope that Mr Childs will heed the advice as much as the good Captain did. Oh yes, and the cover of Chops is a Rorschach blot made entirely of cuts of meat.


 


Words: Chris Dawson.