Thursday 29 May 2008

The Indelicates - American Demo

Although this record has been out for around a month now, it has not had the popular acclaim that it deserves, something that I would like to do my small bit to rectify.

On this album, The Indelicates are the song writing duo of Julia Clarke Lowes and Simon Clayton with able assistance from Ed Van Beinum, Kate Newberry and Al Clayton, and guests including a veritable orchestra of strings and woodwind.

When most up and coming bands are simply happy to make some noise and jump about, the Indelicates have loftier concerns – this album deals with the Way Things Are, and holds up a mirror to feckless youth, deluded romance and dumbed down Britain. They present themselves as outsiders from the music ‘scene’ and they don’t like what they see.

After a string overture, the first track proper is provocatively entitled “The Last Significant Statement to be Made in Rock ‘n’ Roll”. It skewers those bands that sneer and preen and who claim to speak for the ‘kids’. The irony of groups who do this being lambasted by others is not lost on the Indelicates – whereas all those years ago when Joe Strummer sang about “turning rebellion into money”, it didn’t stop him decamping to the U.S. and being chauffeured around in combat gear.

“Julia, We Don’t Live in the Sixties” harkens back to Clarke-Lowes’ previous band, The Pipettes. It references 9/11, 1968 and ‘demonstration chic’. “Sixteen” is as catchy as hell and is about people in music not acting their age. Boy, do I empathise with that one!

The keynote song on the album is "New Art for the People"; a tawdry tale of a hopeless infatuation with a junkie who confuses drugged up squalor with noble aims and is feted by the Press, who just love all that suffering and the exciting possibility of tragedy. The words ‘Doherty’ and ‘Winehouse’ do not feature, but their’s are the faces in this coked up mirror.

A much more explicit elegy to the cult of dead celebrity is the wistful “If Jeff Buckley Had Lived”, which posits how the singer would have been perceived if ‘his voice was still heard/on the weak second album/and the difficult third’. The vision of a embittered, forgotten singer is contrasted with the almost Messianic figure that he has become in death.

"Unity Mitford" is a first person account of the socialite who became infatuated with Hitler and is another of the Indelicates’ catalogue of self deluded romantics. On this album, love is nearly always equated with deception and a refusal to accept the world as it is compared to the promise of what might be.

Aside from an untitled coda, the final track is the angry "We Hate The Kids" which encapsulates all the themes to which they keep returning – the repetitive mediocrity of the music business and how it always looks backwards and not forwards, how it is swaddled in the cloth of rebellion but fails to engage with reality. A terrific finish, with lyrical nods to songs by both Joy Division and Radiohead.

It is a an (in)delicate trick to pull off polemics and pop without the former overpowering the last, but this album achieves this – it’s a sing-a-long protest album, and a complete antidote to the UK school of lying in the gutter but looking at the stars sentimentality.

I love it to pieces and recommend it to your ears.

Buy it here.

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