This post commemorates the idiosyncratic reverse of that culturally homogeneous rural Arcadia where every Sunday afternoon the vicar nibbles on scones with a coterie of bolshy spinsters prior to identifying the culprits of bloodless murders committed with the utmost respect for manners and station, a reverse which is utterly English all the same, but where the foxes strike back.
(Artwork above by Sarah Graham)
In ‘Routemaster’, The Bomber Jackets celebrate one of the icons of our highways, a gambolling blip of colour cursing the monotone transportation network that conveys labour and freight, watch it go, across a countryside that feels fake, like nature theorised by the avatars of post-industrialism (and simulated in Pinewood studios), in vectors tangent to office state-sprawls where life can’t possibly exist yet it does (in an eerily mutated form), past beautiful power cathedrals belching scum into the grey fudge of our bog-standard sky (from which we are compelled to escape, that’s why we go underground).
They celebrate it in the same way the faceless trucker of Duel celebrated the small victories and poignant setbacks of a day in the life of a travelling salesman, or Kowalski celebrated the selfless sacrifices of the law enforcement forces. With utmost prejudice and a healthy dose of chaos, coming across like a primitive, dog-eared obsolete sociology paperback sourced at a charity shop reading version of Future Islands, and all the better for that.
Meanwhile, Please tap into a rich vein of collective celebration manifest in the hypnotic patterns of strings swirling around the Maypole, popular vaudeville’s raucous call and response, the gaudy splashes of colour in the safety standards incompliant death-wish incarnations of the funfair, and the uplifting DIY happening where hegemony busting attitudes are nourished with lovely music and homemade (oft vegan) cakes.
Their sound fits within a strange strain of uniquely British modern post-punk music which Upset the Rhythm have almost single-handedly championed, where proudly progressive tempo eccentrics and structural joy-riding unsettle/ are squashed within a festive C-86 pop armature – paraphrasing what someone once said of Donald Barthelme, ‘Much of the pleasure from listening to this music comes from the way it makes you feel welcome even as it’s subjecting you to vertiginously high levels of entertainment’ – it is out there, exciting and inclusive, which is more than most can say.
Talking about Upset the Rhythm, it is the Spaghetti Tree two-day Shindig in London this coming weekend. The first night features John Maus, Dan Deacon, Plug, Munch Munch and Design a Wave, which is as amazing a line-up as one is likely to get in one night anywhere. We will be playing a handful of records in between the acts together with the WFMU people. You should definitely get down, tix here.