Fans of British Sea Power needn't worry as this lot haven't exactly stolen the Emperor's clothes as looked elsewhere for inspiration. And An Old Fashioned War owes more to Kurt Weil or Tom Waits than any guitar band.
The Strange Death of Liberal England – Forward March! (traditional marching songs to learn and play)
Well, now what am I to make of this album? Shall I get my objections out first? I have to say the cover art really, really annoys me, (with the pseudo EH Shepherd drawings making the whole enterprise redolent of dressing up games – a classic Upper Class pastime as Anthony Powel observed in The Kindly Ones), and the bloody title... I'm sorry but it does make me cringe, with the playground Bunnymenisms an added annoyance. It is such a rag bag of ideas, seemingly cobbled together, and yet, and yet... the music is fabulous, make no doubt about that. In some ways it feels as if the band chucked so many extraneous things at this record - and all that goes with it - that there is a real danger of overlooking the quite brilliant set of songs this they have.
Modern Folk Song's slow, heavy glissando guitar break is just sublime, and Oh Solitude is a true rallying call, with a vicious New Order guitar sound balancing it out. It's really, really impressive in its attitude and delivery. Fans of British Sea Power needn't worry as this lot haven't exactly stolen the Emperor's clothes as looked elsewhere for inspiration. And An Old Fashioned War owes more to Kurt Weil or Tom Waits than any guitar band.
Another thing of note is the singer's voice, which sets the tone for the LP with its strident yelping and dissatisfied growling. Think Burton Cummins if he was an up-tight New Wave dude rather than an acid freak. Mozart on 33 is a great example of the Cummins thing, where the song is literally dragged along by the vocal delivery. The last three songs are worth getting this LP for alone; I Saw Evil, God Damn Broke is and Summer Gave Us Sweets... are TSDOLE at their best, the rant is kept a little in check, allowing the songs to breathe and develop into an angry type of electric folk with beautiful guitar breaks.
Maybe their grandparents were at Aldermaston...
Okay I have reservations, but listen to the record and you'll be won over.
Words: Richard Foster.