Las Kellies – Total Exposure

...the onus is on you the listener to put the spadework in to better reveal its charms.  It’s akin to being at a party with the lights down low, stumbling around and trying to find groovy people to latch onto.

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I love Las Kellies, they are such a force for the good and this new LP will win you over if you give it the correct amount of love and attention. It’s not a straightforward LP in that it’s bitty, sharp, short, and on first listen it was a bit confusing; it doesn’t seem to be an LP with a focal point, and the onus is on you the listener to put the spadework in to better reveal its charms.  It’s akin to being at a party with the lights down low, stumbling around and trying to find groovy people to latch onto. Maybe you feel this because the quiet, repetitive opener Boy Sweet Boy can pass you by without leaving an emotional mark. Actually there is very little of the bubbly enthusiasm seen on their other records, (or at their gigs), Melting Ice, A Youth and Golden Love are other low key groovers, so the LP starts at a very laid back pace indeed; but as I hinted at earlier, a few listens shows these up to be really seductive tracks, a sort of girl group take on Parliament at their most amorous. In fact we don’t get anything up tempo till King Lion, which isn’t that quick either, being propelled by a sort of lethargic, Hi Life stutter.

It’s not all quiet, though. One really strong point in this LP’s favour is the fact that Dennis Bovell* guests on Jealousy and Don’t Look Suspicious, adopting a sort of wise old rasta guise, and his wit and charm is a brilliant counterpoint to the band’s dreamy skank. The second collaboration on the LP, is a masterpiece, Bovell intoning some daft stuff (seemingly morphing into a border guard on Hell’s doorstep) whilst the band come on all innocent. Other enjoyable collaborations are found on the slightly camp pop song Two Types (with Ian Svenonius) which is a real boy / girl “call and answer” template that’s been smuggled into a fuggy smoky bedsit.

And the record starts to generate some heat and noticeable focus round the midpoint with the “determined” instrumental Post Post and the growly, moody Go V! and Typical Bitch. Along with the Bovell numbers, Illa San Simon is a stand out track, a quirky tale backed up by some great vocals and a tough guitar. It’s a shame it’s so short.

So, my advice is give it time, it’s not a record that you’d expect from Las Kellies but it’s one that plays the long game with your attention span, and is one you should listen in to.

(I once saw Dennis Bovell play bass in Stockton Town Hall – of all places - with Edwyn Collins back in the 80s, there’s a weird fact for you, pop pickers. Not sure why I told you but hey, I’m feeling generous on the “anecdote front” today)