‘Eternal Youth’ is an unusual opener for an unusual indie band who shimmer with intelligent energy, keeping the songs restrained but bulbous ideas-wise. The backing vocals irritate through being overplayed and merely repeating the title 4endlessly. It’s just got a nicely dark melodic flow. The jabbering vocal stance used early in ‘Genghis Khan’ is very David Byrne, which must still have appeared new at the time, because there’s nothing copyist about the band elsewhere, and indeed the song develops to an enthralling close, with witty keyboards and winsome guitar. The gentle sing-song capering of ‘Cloud 9’ is equally interesting, fractured and oddly filmic.
This band ran ’79-’83 and, coincidentally, I saw the Dancing Did play with them, with Electric Guitars were also unfortunate enough to be on Stiff Records. It was that era, where people just started becoming wholly individual and wilfully perverse. Cheekily wispy keyboards lift ‘Voice of Sound’ well and then off it wiggles, incorporating a brief train and shivery vocals, the whole song appear to flicker.
‘Scrap That Car’ happened to be recorded when the singer had his balls trapped in a vice, but he carries on regardless and they go loopily funk, which is a happy habit of theirs. Like Gang Of 4 without the academia. ‘Stamp Out The Termites’ has a ditsy, plinky pop thing going for it, but the keyboards add a queasier feel to it, and the individual instruments do tend to have a tweak and twinge here to always just shake up the jittery silliness, and threaten to take the song somewhere weirder. ‘Start Up The New Life’ has some gorgeously Star Trek style keyboards going for it, as well as a snakey rhythm but ‘Food’ is pretty annoying, bordering on ‘quirky’ pop, and nobody needs that, yet once again the fantastic keyboards make it something memorable. Richard Truscott, take a bow!
‘Ja Ja Lunar Commander’ has a bit of Star Wars no doubt, so we’ll pass over that on principle, into the squeaky madness of ‘Interference’ that could even be a demented cuckoo clock. ‘Fat Man’ glides around like a headless XTC, and wit the watery guitar ‘Language Problems’ faffs around a bit too pretend-dippy for its own good, trying hard to be interesting and negaging pop, but not quite getting there, like early Wham! With a toothache. Although there are voices off, ‘Don’t Wake The Baby’ is essentially a reggae instrumental and makes for another strange twist on this corkscrewed record.