You can basically distil Bicep’s eponymous debut album down to a couple of things. Mournful pads and broken beats. Sometimes there’s a vocal sample and maybe some Orbital-esque syncopated rhythmic stabs, too. It’s a pretty simple formula, and it is a formula, but there’s nothing wrong with that if it keeps dancefloors full. There seems to be little doubt, by the popularity of their club nights, that Bicep do that. The album’s hour duration is, however, padded out with some sketches and half-realised ambient pieces, which are best ignored. They may signal the production duo’s intent to break out from their aforementioned formula but lack the sort of direction required to be taken seriously right now. There’s definitely more thought required by them in those areas, so instead concentrate on their floorfillers, all of which demonstrate the pair’s understanding of melody and how to fuse it to rhythm. Spring, Opal and Aura are all worthy of repeated listens and overall the album hangs together brilliantly, despite those few weaker tracks.
This year has been my favourite year for new music since 2013, which, were anyone paying attention (they’re not), was the last time I could be arsed to write something for myself and not just a lot of PR wank. So, for the next few days I will post up some reviews I have felt compelled to string together. I have written a couple of critiques that are utterly savage, mainly as I was assured an album was good and then discovered it was no such thing, but I have decided to keep it light and only post about my likes (might change my mind, depends on how much gin is in the house between now and new year). Anyway, reviews and that, isn’t it? Read on…
Devoid of her own personal wit, Theresa May has fallen back on the ‘coalition of chaos’ barb that worked so well for Cameron in the last election to attack basically all other parties and any notions of a progressive alliance.
The fact that in 2015 the Tories had just been in a pretty unstable coalition themselves (omnishambles budgets, academies, etc.) didn’t register on their irony scale at the time, nor, unfortunately, with the feeble irony-o-meter of the general public, who ended up giving ham-bot and his cabal of wreckers carte blanche to unleash Brexit and throw us into actual, bona fide chaos… And still nothing from the masses.
The greater irony is, however, had the public not drank so deeply from the Old Etonian cup, the Tories would have been forced back into coalition. With whom is irrelevant, because one of the first things ‘call me Dave’ would have put on the table in any negotiation would have been the referendum, which he didn’t really want, but was using as bargaining chip. A hubristic gamble that exploded in his face, just like the old days when he was fagging, possibly. So in essence, coalition would probably not have been all that chaotic by comparison to what transpired, it would have saved us all from so much fuckery.
So the next time you see a Tory banging on about strength and stability and suggesting any alternative to them is chaos, do remember that they are the architects of the most socially and politically unstable times in a generation. Giving the Tories a free hand has been disastrous and to do it again in 2017 would be lunacy.
Filling the internet with unremarkable, petty, moronic things, all to generate ad revenue, is currently the MO of online capitalism masquerading as journalism. It doesn’t matter what the fuck you write because putting it in a list makes it shareable. 11 People Called June, Seven Ways to Urinate, 61 Times That Tuesday Happened, think of any old shit, gather together the stock photography and off you go. Profit. The spreadsheet is clearly lord and master as there appear to be no limits to the barely lukewarm fripperies of the listicle; lowest common denominator clickbait wins, how the fuck else would these things get published?
- We’ll Never Forget These 9 All-Time Great Performances by Grieving Stars. Do fuck off, Evan, there’s a good chap.
- The Official Ranking of Herbs, From Worst to Best. I shouldn’t need to comment really but there is nothing in this list that raises it above half-witted, ludicrous nonsense. I’m sure the author (…) could make myriad arguments for this being light hearted and fun but it is neither, it’s just a massive, meaningless waste of everything.
- 21 Types of Best Friends Everyone Has. At best this is an asinine list of ‘hilarious’ personality types. Mainly it’s just aimless, soul destroying cack. If this list chimed with you in any way you should have a very fucking serious word with yourself.
- 21 Pictures You’ll Only Understand If You’re Introverted. No Michelle, you’re quite wrong, I like going out to pubs and getting utterly arseholed and shouting at bins, but I understood. I understood it was vacuous crap.
- 16 Early Photographs That Prove History Was Evil. If, having just read the title of this one you didn’t scream BOLLOCKS at your computer, we won’t get on.
- 35 Celebs Who’ve Aged Horribly. Pictures of people when they were young and then old. THEY HAVE AGED, HOW DISGUSTING OF THEM. Awful fucktards can at least afford surgery…
- 17 Celebrity Before-And-After Plastic Surgery Disasters. Nice byline pic Ashley, is that before or after your disaster? The quality of all these articles is suspect but this is so devoid of any care or attention that it would probably have been better to let a thought-challenged amoeba have a go.
Slaves – Not nearly as good as Sleaford Mods.
Gaz Coombes – The least interesting thing he has done so far and that includes The Road to Rouen
Soak – Taupe, fawn, oatmeal, magnolia…
Jamie xx – A kind of shit pastiche.
Benjamin Clemetine – Nice voice, but really very dull.
Ghostpoet – I like this one!
Florence + the Machine – Like an angry swan in a tunnel.
Eska – Earnest vocalising over ‘imaginative’ music. S’alright… spose….
C Duncan – Reminds me of Jim Noir. Probably not a bad thing.
Roisin Murphy – Rips off ‘Pancake Day’ by Mulligan & O’Hare. (Good!)
Wolf Alice – Did a good single but the album is dog shit and reeks of A&R box ticking. Go home.
Aphex Twin – He’s a bleedin’ genius dontcha know. He is.
1995ish: nerds + porn / theft of intellectual property = internet
2000ish: dotcom bubble + porn / theft of intellectual property = internet
2005ish: stalking old school friends + lolcats + porn / theft of intellectual property = internet
2010ish: avoiding work colleagues + lolcats + porn / theft of intellectual property = internet
2015ish: passive aggressive bullshit + lolcats + porn x marketing twattery / theft of intellectual property = internet
There is a lot of ‘20 Years Since Britpop’ noise happening at the moment, for which I care very little. Britpop was, in general, awful. Leaving aside any jingoistic connotations that were foisted upon it by the media, Britpop was basically lots of arseholes who were far too pleased with themselves for copying something that was so much better than them in the first place. Well done you clever boys and girls. Britpop was the start of the endlessly backwards looking bullshit, the artless imitation, that has been a feature of pop culture ever since, legitimising ‘will this do?’ fodder for the mass market. So much smug satisfaction and so little talent does not make for something to celebrate, as far as I am concerned – Echobelly, Sleeper, Cast, The Seahorses, Hurricane #1, Heavy Stereo, Space, are all as dull as painting your eyes magnolia and listening to every speech Ken Livingstone has ever made.
So, clearly, I won’t be tuning into Jo Whiley and Steve Lamacq on Radio 2 in the coming weeks. Their Radio 1 show was quite good at the time, mainly because it wasn’t all about Britpop, although, naturally, as the big sound of the day, it featured a bit too heavily for my liking. Having a show that exclusively looks back, 20 years hence, on a scene that exclusively looked backwards on ‘classic’ British pop seems a bit pointless to me. I am not saying that all music should be startlingly original or it’s worthless, but when something is so slavishly travelling in reverse and so rammed full of ham-fisted vignettes of every day life that are as humdrum as the soundtracks they accompany, then there is little to eulogise.
Any scene, no matter how bereft of substance, however, will have its exceptions and Britpop, despite its creative inertia, did have at least 10 really incredible songs. Personally, Oasis make me feel unwell but Columbia is quite brilliant. Mansun, a bit like Muse after them, believed they were clever, arty and insightful and they were just as wrong, but Wide Open Space is about as elegant as anyone ever got in the 90s. This Is A Low still stands up as a timeless bit of pop and Babies, well, it’s Pulp and they stood alone in the scene… It’s debatable if Night Vision, Lazarus and This Is Music are really Britpop but I needed to make up the numbers and all three tracks are particularly magnificent.
So, despite my aversion to almost all of Britpop’s stock, here is my own contribution to the noise. Ten tracks that you should listen to If You Have To Do Britpop…
Spotify Playlist If you have to do Britpop…
Mansun – Wide Open Space
Oasis – Columbia
Supergrass – Lose It
Elastic – Stutter
Pulp – Babies
Suede – The Drowners
Super Furry Animals – Night Vision
The Boo Radleys – Lazarus
The Verve – This Is Music
Blur – This is a Low