singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
21 October 2013
(listening through speakers)Avid Acutus
Funk F·XRII
Linn Kilmax DS (Renew)
TEAD Mastergroove
TEAD Vibe / Pulse 2
TEAD Linear A
TEAD Model One

Camera Obscura are a band that so often disappoint me. None of their records are bad, or anything approaching it, but with things like Swans, Happy New Year, and A Sister’s Social Agony, they’ve set very high standards.

Here they’re ploughing the same furrow as ever, giving us the listener exactly what we came for. The standard cliche would be “sweeping” instrumentation, clever sassy/sad writing, and that brilliant vocal delivery. I still miss the dude who sang, but I need to STOP LIVING IN THE PAST.

But before I do that, let’s recall how one of the great things about 4AD was always the three-or-four-track EP. I’m thinking of things like Love’s Easy Tears, Slow Dust, and The Official Colourbox World Cup Theme. Admittedly, they were 12” singles, and this is a double-seven, and 4AD isn’t really 4AD any more, but this misses the point of those great records: they were non-album material. You occasionally got a different version of an LP track, but even that was good. (The 12” versions of Kansas, for instance, are miles better than the one on Birdwood Cage.)

Anyway. Good record. Exactly what you were expecting, and a very pleasant listen. All the songs are just that little bit too short, which is great.

3

Take the drums from any song on Psychocandy, the singing from any of the Riot Grrrl bands who actually sang, a guitar sufficiently distorted that all chords sound the same, and the organ from a Clinic record, and you have the ‘a’-side, Talking. Talking. Talking. Talking…

Side ‘b’ loses the organ, but brings a melancholy sweetness in its melody. I can’t tell any of the words, which I like.. Chances are this will go on the shelves with the other 2000 7” singles, and I’ll never play it again. I hope that isn’t the case, because this is a cracking little record.

4

There’s something of the V/Vm about the packaging. It’s the photocopied onto-coloured-paper sleeve, the Ziploc style bag, and the song whose title is that of another song, but with “meat” substituted in somewhere. Slipping out the disc, the middle is a straight copy of the old Sarah style of an urban landscape with snipped-out typed titles. Split personality. Let’s the what the music’s like.

Lovely Jenny Agutter is on the front, looking lovely in that lovely outfit from Logan’s Run. Remember when she took it off? Blimey. She was, of course, called Jessica 6, and she was lovely. The song opens with a sample from said film, and goes on to a strongly melodic piece of indiepop with a slight 80s bent. Side b plays down a slightly different line, being sort of split into two like Sucrose or The Dirge, with the second half being more interesting. I like this a lot.

Includes a printed lyric sheet, which is rare for a 7”.

4

“I’ll be Honest”. “To be Fair”. “At the End of the Day”. “The Thing is Is”. “It is What it Is”. “So He’s Turned Round and Said To Me…”. The way people talk today drives me mad. “Haitch”.

Clear reddy-purple vinyl, no middle, and sounds like a Scottish-fronted version of Operation period Heavenly. Indie disco written all over it. I like the somewhat nuts David Barnes style artwork, which is by James Birtwhistle, and I like that Spook School have given him the credit on the sleeve. There seems to be quite a lot of good indiepop around at the moment, and this is that, if you see what I mean. A boy sings on side 2 and sounds like the kind of skinny, anxious spoddy type who is a staple of the genre. This is a very easy record to like. (Unless you hate indiepop.)

4

People who take bikes on trains… Don’t get me started. And they’re so pious. They seem to want you to thank them. And people riding bikes on the pavement… Two tracks, both on the same side, of simple garagey stuff. Okay.

2

More soundtracky fun from Ghost Box. Singer sounds like Julian Cope and, in common with all of this series, the music is of very high quality. It’s well recorded and pressed as well, if that matters to you.

4