Albums reviews: Metronomy, Moby & Nick Cave

In the last week, I’ve done something quite revolutionary for me. Yeah I did, I bought three new releases. Ok, so one of them is a remastered release of an album first released ten years ago, but I reckon it still counts. So, let’s do something revolutionary here and deal with some album reviews- this being, y’know, a music blog and all that.

First up, Metronomy and The English Riviera. I had no idea about this band until a Friday night watching Later… with Jools Holland a few weeks back. But one of the tracks they played, The Bay, indicated that perhaps they were worth further investigation. A view backed up by a tweet from my friend James. So, in the week I headed to HMV and purchased the cd. I love it. Love it, love it, love it. Whilst The Bay- obviously- grabbed my attention first listen, tracks like Everything Goes My Way, with great vocals from Roxanne Clifford, and the magnificent Corinne are working their way right into my heart. Corinne has an early 80’s electro feel to me. It sounds like early Depeche Mode, but then this  Depeche Mode nut would say that. Opening to the sounds of seagulls and a violin, the album really grabs the attention with We Broke Free, “Thank God the gold is mine”. Quite. To me, this is an album you could quite easily get up and have a little jig to. Alternatively, you could quite easily have a little sobbing session to it, it’s got quite a melancholic, nostalgic vibe to it, exemplified by tracks The Look and She Wants. If you haven’t heard this album yet, I suggest you head immediately to your nearest retailer and pick it up.

On my visit to HMV Angel, I also picked up Moby’s Destroyed album. Lured in by reviews of the album that informed you this was music written in, and for, hotel rooms and airports at 2am, this sounded exactly like the kind of Moby album that I should buy and I hadn’t bought a Moby album since 2002’s 18. I mean, who doesn’t want to hear music written in the dead of night, for the dead of night?

That’s two Depeche Mode references in 360 words, in a blog that has nothing to do with them, I am nothing if not obsessed…

Part of the problem with this album, though, is that it lends itself- by definition and Moby’s wishes expressed in the liner notes – to night time listening. So, we put it on twice last week and, once opening track- The Broken Places- evoking Exciter era Depeche, I know I know, was negotiated I found myself falling asleep to it, only to be woken up by what seemed like an interminable penultimate track, Lacrimae. Clocking in at 8:05, I guess you could say that it was pretty close to interminable- although Pink Floyd would only be on their first note. Another problem I have with the album is that, despite a very different conception to something like Play, say, it does sound very much like just another Moby album apart from the track Rockets. This unforgiveably evokes Snow Patrol although it’s followed by The Day, which could easily have been on Play. Whilst Victoria Lucas harks back to a dancier, trancier Moby I’m not sure there’s much new here. I’m fully prepared to acknowledge that I need to get to know the album better and it did go down very well at friends on Saturday night. So, although Destroyed probably sounds tired because its author is, I’m not writing it off just yet. Not until I’ve listened to it in a hotel room at 2am anyway.

And so we come to Moby’s Mute labelmate (and Depeche’s come to that- I need help), Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and No More Shall We Part. Reissued as part of the latest series of 4 Bad Seeds albums to have undergone the remastered + bonus dvd treatment, it is the only one of this four that either Jo and I didn’t previously own- the other three being Let Love In, Murder Ballads and The Boatman’s Call. An observation: These reissues could well be seen as a cynical cashing in on a product already out there, but for those of us who have- inexplicably- only come to the Bad Seeds relatively late in their career, I think these reissues are a godsend.

I wasn’t sure about this, mid period, Bad Seeds album. I’d heard tell of a quieter side to them emerging here. However, although there are pianos and Warren Ellis violins aplenty here, this is not the sound of a band slipping quietly into middle age. Album opener, As I Sat Sadly By Her Side sets the tone, its piano leading it urgently from the traps- with a quintessential Nick Cave twist  in the last verse. At over seven minutes, with it’s repeated phrases, the song Hallelujah takes on the hymnal quality suggested by its title.

The piano again drives Fifteen Feet Of Pure White Snow on, a piano in fact that sounds a little like Massive Attack’s Heat Miser, the subject of the song are the writers of the Gospels suffocating under the titular “fifteen feet” whilst God looks on. This leads nicely onto God Is In The House. Typical Cave, it is beautiful, cutting and funny. Oh My Lord continues the fun with an apparently true story of an antler wearing guy pushing his bum against the window of the hairdressers attending to Cave’s barnet. 

I think these three songs definitely represent what I love about Cave and his ability to observe the serious, or the religious, and write irrevently about it. It means that songs don’t get too weighed down by their subject matter. And when you’re being backed by one of the greatest backing bands in the history of popular music, those songs can only be augmented. I would recommend this album to anyone.

The Bay- Metronomy

God Is In The House- Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

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