Thursday, 16 February 2012

Review: Alberteen

Alberteen – Metal Book (Rhythm & Noir)
BBC6 Music have fallen a little in love with Alberteen and Tom Robinson, in particular, thinks they’re smashing. They describe themselves as ‘rhythm and noir’, even naming their label the same, and why not? There’s certainly a cinematic slant to their sound, though not much that you’d describe as epic. Think classic French pictures of the ‘50s, John Lurie soundtracks, anything with Tom Waits in a bit part, and you’ll be a little warmer.

That just describes an atmosphere or mood, rather that an actual sound. For that we have to refer to conventional pop music forms, because strip away the fancy bits, and we’re left with a highly literate, extremely clever guitar-pop band, with a knack for lyrical barbs and more than their fair share of decent tunes. There’s a ‘60s feel to much of the material, something that originated in a garage, but over time, tidied itself up and refined its tastes. That’s no surprise, as there’s an awful lot of grown-up life experience on hand. Singer Phil Shaw is the author of a best-selling book on Patti Smith’s “Horses” album, and is a Professor Of English at Leicester University. Bassist Ade Berry has written and directed several plays and has collaborated with Barry Adamson (Magazine, Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds).

Funnily enough, the title track, and opening number, had me thinking of Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand”, the chorus, anyway. Still, a strong enough song to get things moving, and it’s followed by a couple of stunners, in “A Girl And A Gun” and “Tamogotchi Landfill” (check out the video – link below). “The Butcher’s Daughter” rattles along like a feisty, love struck consumptive, borrowing from the Gang Of Four and the Go-Go’s on route. Best of all is “Our Dead Language”. It’s echoing drums and widescreen production just soars.
Simon M.

Tamogotchi Landfill video:

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