Morton Valence - Left

Hacker’s still ploughing that punk-country furrow, dipping into a fluorescent, seagull-proof binbag of influences (CSNY, Doctors of Madness, Kinks, Velvet Underground) and showing off what he pulls out to an audience in the pub.

(Bastard Recordings)

A marvellous record, but tell me kittens, do Morton Valence ever make a bad ‘un? This new LP, Left, is a lot rougher and more disparate than previous recordings; for sure Hacker’s still ploughing that punk-country furrow, dipping into a fluorescent, seagull-proof binbag of influences (CSNY, Doctors of Madness, Kinks, Velvet Underground) and showing off what he pulls out to an audience in the pub. The Return of Lola and are classic example of this cheeky, Passport to Pimlico-style appropriation of rawk’s dirty baubles.

And there’s this air of tessellate transience in Left – nothing seems permanent. Maybe it’s the way the sound is set up – things like Germany Before the War and Slide Don’t Try and just pass you by like strangers in the street. They are great, of course and remind you of lots of things; but they feel like ghosts. Maybe it’s also found in the lyrics in tracks like the magnificent and very brave opener, The Day I went to Bed for 10 Years; which seem even more obsessed in putting Iain Sinclair’s world of the flâneur into music. Pop music is never far away though, and we get a sub-Glitter band stomp (running on one AA battery) with Chaps. Old Punks Part I is a great, slightly threadbare bossanova shuffle that’s got the best counterpoint in the follow up track Punks Part II. Fellow vocalist Anne Gilpin has always formed the reassuring, “sensible” counterpoint to Hacker’s volatile dreaming in MV, and with Clouds, Lost Forgotten Boy and Annie McFall we get moments of balm (despite the fact that Gilpin’s vocals are often laced with darker elements which means things never get too retro-soppy) where Hacker can stick his feet in a tub of hot water and turn off his urban rants.    

Quieter and more “reclusive” than other MV records, but then, that’s no reason not to listen in.