Albums round up: Pure Comedy by Father John Misty; Silver/Lead by Wire; Things I’ve Never Said by Frances; Let The Dancers Inherit The Party by British Sea Power

Pure Comedy by Father John Misty

Pure Comedy by Father John Misty

0
Have your say

Josh Tillman’s humour has always been bracing; on his third album as Father John Misty, the former Fleet Fox’s observations are even more caustic than usual.

Humanity has so many failings, he points out in the six-minute title track, that the only sane response is to find it all laughable. Religion is skewered, as is politics. “Where did they find these goons they elected to rule them?/What makes these clowns they idolise so remarkable?/These mammals are so hell-bent on fashioning new gods/So they can go on being godless animals” he croons over piano, strings and swelling brass.

Total Entertainment Forever opens in similarly withering fashion: “Bedding Taylor Swift every night inside the Oculus Rift/After mister and the missus finish dinner and the dishes.”

In the epic Leaving LA his distaste even seems to turn in on himself. “These LA phoneys and their bulls*** bands/That sound like dollar signs and Amy Grant/So reads the pull quote from my last cover piece/Entitled ‘The oldest man in folk rock speaks’”.

Pure Comedy is perhaps Tillman’s finest realisation yet of Loudon Wainwright III-like wit and Honky Chateau-era Elton John balladry. Its bleakness might be hard to take if its tunes weren’t so good. They unfurl at a measured pace, with Tillman’s vocals sounding as fatalistic as his world view. Don’t expect to be cheered by what this album has to offer, but do expect to find yourself humming its melodies at the strangest of times.

Post-punk veterans Wire enter their 40th year in rude health. The rich vein of form that began with guitarist Matt Simms’ official introduction to their line-up on their 2011 album Red Barked Tree continued with Change Becomes Us (2013), Wire (2014) and Nocturnal Koreans (2016).

Wire. Picture: Owen Richards

Wire. Picture: Owen Richards

Silver/Lead is rightfully described in its press notes as “about as far from nostalgia as you could get”. Primary tunesmith Colin Newman tempers his fondness for sonic experimentation with some sharp melodies while lyricist and Graham Lewis fashions plenty of ear-catching lyrics, nowhere more so than in Short Elevated Period, a snappy two and 54 seconds of guitar pop that’s destined to become a favourite at gigs.

“The path that is progress is under repair” they note wryly in Diamonds In Cups, a song whose guitar riff has a Marc Bolan-esque chug. “Some folk believe in magic/Does voodoo hoodoo do it for you?” they enquire in the brooding This Time, adding: “Some folks have the gift for living/Others make a living hell”. Sleep On The Wing combines atmospheric electronica and melodic guitars to winning effect.

Wire bring their much lauded Drill Festival to the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds from April 21-23.

Twenty-three-year-old singer songwriter Frances Cooke was nominated for both the 2016 Brit Critics’ Choice Award and the BBC Sound Of... poll. Her early singles and EPs on taste-making labels Kitsune and Communion Records failed to ignite the charts but hinted at a talent for well-turned ballads with an introspective bent.

Frances

Frances

Her 11-track debut album includes the memorable Don’t Worry About Me, which the Newbury native performed at Channel 4’s Stand Up To Cancer fundraiser. The winsome Grow is also featured on the soundtrack to the Brit flick Mum’s List, starring Rafe Spall and Emilia Fox.

The gently undulating Drifting sounds sure to be another radio hit, bolstered as it is with a tasteful string arrangement.

Less likable, however, are her forays into contemporary pop, such as When It Comes To Us and Say It Again, which trade her emotional honesty for an upbeat, generic sound.

Frances seems to be at her best playing it slow and thoughtful.

With The Maccabees soon to hang up their hats it would seem Brighton-based British Sea Power have few contenders for the title of British indie rock’s most cherishable band.

Fourteen years and seven studio albums – plus several soundtracks – into their career, the six-piece are in rousing form on Let The Dancers Inherit The Party. Informed – but not overwhelmed – by political and social events of the past year or so, they remind us that only six degrees separate us from everyone else on the planet in the spirited Keep On Trying (Sechs Freunde) and urge us not to give in to cold thoughts and self-indulgence in Bad Bohemian.

“I know, oh yes, I know/Sometimes the fever comes and goes,” Scott Wilkinson notes over an insistent guitar riff and banging drums in Saint Jerome.

Throughout there are echoes of the Bunnymen and pre-stadium rock Simple Minds but that’s no bad thing.

To help fund the recording of Let The Dancers Inherit The Party British Sea Power turned to the generosity of their fans. The band have rewarded them with their best record to date.

George Benson

Music interview: George Benson – ‘I was knocked out that Miles Davis even called me let alone asked me to record with him’