"It's brilliant, messy, slack-jawed and doesn't understand the term “hang up”. "
Quasi – When the Going Gets Dark (Munich/Domino)
Just as I sat down to write this review, I find out that Sleater Kinney has split up. So, as a paean in part to that great band, and as a herald to the new age... I would like to unofficially nominate When the Going Gets Dark as one of the LPs of the month. It's brilliant, messy, slack-jawed and doesn't understand the term "hang up". It rolls into town in a souped-up Dodge named Alice the Goon, a slowed down, atonal Helter Skelter riff dominates and creates a platform for a wistful song about electric eels, or something. It stumbles about, led a merry dance by some strident piano before falling to pieces half way through. It has a peculiar introspective, loner kid in the playground charm to it. The Rhino is a bonkers Velvetsy bar-room stomp about chimps and other animals which never fails to make me laugh... When the Going Gets Dark is a growly deliberately underachieving club-foot shuffle which would sound incredibly pompous if done by the likes of Aerosmith or the Exile on Main Street Stones, (frankly the type of bands who would try to do this sort of slow-mo bluesy stuff. I shudder to think the mess the Primals would have made of this.) As it is it's witty and street-wise enough to survive four minutes.
I Don't Know You Anymore is a maudlin, rather scatter brained affair, hanging on to a circular downbeat piano riff, cymbal heavy drums and some very lazy, indifferent sounding vocals. It's class. "Peace and Love ain't no game/peace and love ain't no shame" proclaims singer Sam Coombes on the opening bars of (yes that's right) Peace and Love, a clarion call both to that admirable sentiment, and also to the instruments, which come and join in this uplifting ditty, making a discordant noise that somehow all hangs together on a piano riff. Beyond the Sky sounds lifted from Mercury Rev's Deserters Songs. In contrast to the rest of the LP thus far, we have beautiful, ethereal keyboard harmonies and very positive, self empowering lyrics. Half way through the track seemingly morphs into something off Tangerine Dream's Atem which is fine by me. The odd psychedelic guitar noise and bird cheep stops it becoming too kosmisch... Following hard on its heels is Presto Change-O, which boasts a slightly deranged guitar line, and builds up into a sonic piece not too dissimilar to Piper at the Gates 'Floyd. This, of course, is a Good Thing.
A wailing acoustic strum sets up Poverty Sucks (it sure does). The track is a hallmark acid-campfire ditty, blessed as it is with great surging vocal line and attendant melodies. Waspish guitar lines underpin the troubadour, Tim Buckley "having a good time" style that the acoustics have given the track. Merry X-Mas (sic) initially starts like an early Cluster track before building up in an impressionistic way. It's very, very messy before things come into focus with a lovely chorus of "Merry Christmas, happy New Year. Pleased to meet you, Oh, how do you do?" Sweet eh? Death Culture Blues sounds like a right barrel of laughs, but is a fairly straight alternative rock run-through, albeit piano based and possessing a great refrain "I'm tired of singin' the death culture blues". Invisible Star is a soft song, stripped of all pretence and played straight for a change and a suitable ending to a cracking set.
Weird, slack, messy, and somewhat in love with itself, it is a highly recommended listen.
Words: Richard Foster.