Morton Valence – Bob & Veronica Ride Again
A sumptuous piece of work, and one that goes very much against the grain of these angsty, fragmented times, what with it’s reliance on understated and clever arrangements, it’s insistence on a vocal delivery that tries to harmonise with the musical mood, and the band’s noble attempt to create a body of work that doesn’t run out of steam after four or five tracks.
The LP tracks a love story (with the help of a story booklet thick enough to prop your bed up with) between, (you guessed it), a certain Bob & Veronica. And, as befits furtive tales dealing with suburban romance, there’s a gloriously seedy vibe to the record. It’s in no rush to spill its message to the over-eager. Sequin Smile and Ordinary Pleasures are bedroom reflections that are about as Serge Gainsbourg as you get; (one can’t help noting the faux Bonnie & Clyde poses on the cover artwork too). Luckily this isn’t some back-slapping attempt to sound sophisticated; Funny Peculiar and Falling Down the Stairs are (at times) exercises in dumbed-down disco stomps.
Now and again, (on stuff like John Young and Hang it On the Wall), I hear a resemblance to acts from the 1990s such as Stereolab, St Etienne, Pulp, or Barry Adamson’s solo stuff. Bob & Veronica is a record steeped in the romantic café bar continental-isms, (not to mention ye good ol’ British suburban kitchen sink stuff, Joe Orton style), that the artists I’ve mentioned dabbled in. But, you know, there’s nothing wrong with that. Especially as this sort of approach allows a softer, less hung-up, more glorious feel to the music. That’s what this LP is about, being quietly glorious, (despite fuck ups, life-problems, etcetera, etcetera…) Check out “I must go,” she said… for further proof.
And get this; I got warned against reviewing it too quickly, in case I missed out on the subtleties of the record. I mean, when oh when has any reviewer since Saucerful of Secrets been told this? Magic…
Words: Richard Foster