Fazz uses the word "Shellac-esque" and makes sense doing it.
Publisher: Shock Records
Mon, 5 December 2005
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I received this CD in the mail from our always-courteous leader Sammy about 2 weeks ago. At first I was looking at the cover art, and reading the included press-release, and I didn't quite know what to make of this release. The press release states, and I quote:
"For the uninitiated, Babyshambles and particularly their enigmatic frontman Pete Doherty (pronounced Docherty) have had more press headlines (for both the right and wrong reasons) than George W. Bush over the past year or so. At this point we would also like to point out that Babyshambles are far better songwriters than George Bush."
Funny, I'd never ever seen their names in any kind of press before this release, and I hear that George W. Bush is quite talented at redneck banjo playing!
Ok, on to the important stuff. The CD it's self. The cover art is a rough mélange of hand-drawn artwork on a paper-like background (does this seem like you've seen it before *cough* The Hurts *cough*), and the track listing is ridiculously long. 16 tracks on a debut release... Whoa...
The opening number is "La Bella et Bete". At first listen it's a bit of a jangly guitar ditty with hints of The Strokes and Franz Ferdinand. It has a quite catchy chorus, but is slightly let down by the thin and uninspiring rhythm section. I certainly hope this won't be the pace for the rest of the album. Whatever happened to putting your most killer track first?
Track number 2 is charmingly entitled "F*#k Forever". Now this seems like an anti-establishment brit-punk title if ever I've heard one. Again that Franz-Ferdinand-esque guitar intro kicks, and surprisingly, I've heard this song before, whish is odd seeing I rarely listen to the radio. The intro promises much, the verse promises very little, but the chorus section is fairly catchy, if off-key, and I could imagine these guys rocking it out at The Arthouse or The Tote in Melbourne quite easily.
|Well, nobody can accuse them of being pretty boys. |
On to song #3, "A'rebours". This track is more my pace. It kicks off with a catchy little bass line that the guitars lock in nicely with until they head off on their own tangent and into obscurity by the boppy vocal track. The chorus is essentially an extension of the verse, and reminds me greatly of local Melbourne bands "Botswana" and "Red Giant".
At track number 4 we have "The 32nd of December". We get a cool little keyboard/drum into which gives way to another scratchy guitar thing (dang, hasn't this guitarist heard of gain and EQ?). The vocals kick in and it's yet another toe-tapping fun-time song, of which I must have heard on Triple J at some stage, because I know this one well.
At song #5 we get "Pipedown". Dang, this release must have been an album of the week on the J at some stage, because I keep hearing these songs I know, and not for the right reasons. This one is a bit rockier than the band's previous songs, and could possibly get some heads nodding down at your local, but apart from that we seem to get lost in an arrangement that wasn't thought out.
Track number 6 is "Sticks and Stones". I'm listening... and I can hear a bit of bass and vocals... oh wait, there it is. Hmmm, the first thing that comes to mind is "Franz Ferdinand". It's a well written song that moves casually through it's paces, and actually gets quite catchy with it's syncopated guitar riffs and what not. Definitely a highlight of the album so far.
Up next we have "Killamangiro". Now I'm wondering what version of the Oxford Dictionary these guys have, because these song names are cool! Drums and guitars kick this one off into a verse that sounds much like some old Ramones tracks I've heard. It's a moderately paced and catchy tune with some extremely tasteful guitar parts, and we have another highlight!
At Track number 8, and crossing the halfway point in the album, we are offered "8 Dead Boys"… Hmmm, brings to mind some scenes from "Wolf Creek" which I saw at the weekend. It kicks off with a strangely Shellac-esq intro riff, which quickly degrades into unintelligible noise, but as soon as the vocals kick in it regains some form of a composition. It's not a bad song, but as far as I would say, skip this one. The guitar work is a little self-indulgent and noisy at times.
Songity song number 9 is "In love with a Feeling". Ooooh, nice guitar intro, into a nice verse. A little depressing, but nonetheless catchy and worth your attention. It more than makes up for this songs predecessor.
"Pentonville" is up next at track #10, as we kick into double digits. This track kicks off with a little vocal and guitar thing that makes me want to go and listen to dub, which is obviously the thought behind this song. Well, I couldn't really call it a song, more of a in-between musical interlude, which in my opinion is a shame, because this track is by far the best one on the album so far. Just add huge bass and drums and some horns and you've got a dead-set awesome song.
At number 11 we have "What Katy did next". Hmmmm, clacky snare hits and clean guitars open this song into what is a really nice verse and chorus which is quite catchy at times, and extremely easy to listen to. Definitely check this one out. The chorus is amazingly catchy and easy to sing along to.
Song #12 is "Albion", the namesake track for the album. We get some seedy sounding guitar feedback and synth work in the intro, which some kind of rhythmic percussion going on before the songs evolves into a nice, laid back acoustic track which is a little too easy to listen to at times.
|I remember the gig Faith No More played at this joint. Still have it on video somewhere. |
On to unlucky number 13 and we get "Back from the Dead". Ooooh, this bass into reminds me heavily of bands like The Cure. It has that boppy and almost danceable beat, and those haunting vocals that we've come to know from mid-80's art-rock bands. I really like this song and would definitely recommend a listen.
For track #14 we get to hear "Loyalty Song". It starts off with a nice guitar and bass intro, again very reminiscent of 80's acts like The Cure and the like. I already like this song and I'm only 30 seconds into it, definitely worth another listen.
Song number 15, Babyshambles give us "Up in the Morning", and I don't quite know what to make of this one just yet. At first we hear some speaking, and some random background noises. Finally after what seems like an eternity we get a cool little guitar and vocal intro. This song sounds to me like the one the band browbeat their A&R into letting them keep on the record. A little self-indulgent and noisy at times, but nonetheless worth a listen.
At lucky last #16 we have "Merry Go Round". I like the acoustic guitar intro which the light drums and vocals that for some strange reason remind me of an old musical I can't quite put my finger on. It's definitely an outgoing track and has that slow feel, the feeling of finishing something, kind of like Weezer's "Only in Dreams" off their Blue Album, but without anything close to that kind of songwriting ability.
Down in Albion is not by any account a bad release, just very "niche" and would appeal to a very small audience. At times it reminds me of some of the bands that have opened for my various bands in stinky little pubs over the years, and I think these guys would be much better live. The attitude just isn't showcased in a recorded medium.
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More articles by Fazz
On a whole, if you're into scratchy guitars, no bottom end and off-key vocals, you'll love this album. Fans of Franz Ferdinand and the like, check it out.