Originally a low-key release last year, the third LP from US trio The Crystal Furs now gets a wider vinyl distribution in the UK.
From the opening tones of the Farfisa organ on ‘Comeback Girls’ the lo-fi indiepop shines through, with jangly guitars, unassuming instrumental breaks and a naturalistic production that puts the Furs right there in the room with you. The band sound is also encapsulated in the minor epic of ‘Expo 67’, opening with the strangely inviting line ‘…we built a home of concrete bones…’, full of melancholy in the verses before the catchy chorus. Lead vocalist Steph Buchanan keeps herself carefully placed in the mix, making the band sound as one cohesive entity.
‘Too Kind To Be Cruel’ is a compact pop song with a yearning melody and some well-honed rhymes ‘…write the things you’ll say to me …engaging in so much hyperbole…‘, while ‘Burn Us Down’ rocks hard; ‘….you wanna cure me, you wanna fix me I wanna kick you to the curb…’ and is probably my favourite on the album.
Over the twelve tracks (and an extra set of mono remixes on the digital album!) The Crystal Furs clearly sound like they are having fun in their music, as summarised in the final track ‘Second Time Around’, ‘…..join a band and play guitar… and play it loud it isn’t hard…‘ This is a lyrically dense album too, full of themes, ideas, reflections and social comment and not afraid to give these carefully crafted songs the time to breathe and develop.
From the opening in 2014, Relevant Records in Cambridge’s Mill Road has been the perfect combination of relaxing coffee shop and a basement full of new and old vinyl. Live music has regularly featured too, sometimes amongst the records but now more often in the larger area upstairs.
Arriving late I unfortunately missed support Karalinga but after some seasonal sing-alongs Cambridge five-piece The New Fools opened their set with a cover of ‘Day Tripper’ (the Christmas Number 1 in 1965!). The rest of the set showed that the band have plenty of their own material to draw on, with featured tracks from the album ‘Brilliant’ from earlier this year (reviewed at https://cambridgemusicreviews.net/2019/07/07/the-new-fools-brilliant-lp-released-june-2019/) and a soon to be released new collection.
‘Martine and Me’ is a bittersweet tale and ‘New Way Of Thinking’ brings the piano to the fore. I enjoyed the Höfner bass lines in a new summery song (about a druid?) and ‘Something About Jane’ was an admirable slice of Britpop. Lead singer and composer Tony Jenkins says he wants to create an original northern soul song and ‘House Of Having Fun’ has the trademark energy and certainly got the audience moving. New single ‘John Candy Talking’ is out soon and ‘The Big Wheel’ is as ever a standout track; the melody, words and atmosphere perfectly driven along by the band.
The finale was the optimistic but realistic ‘(Waiting For) The Good Times’, setting up the crowd for the festive season.
It was an excellent, upbeat show in this very warming and welcoming venue…(though I was looking forward to a live outing for their acerbic tribute/dissection of Morrissey ‘Oh Steven, Why?’, but I suppose no-one would have wanted to lower the mood!?)
Something special from the Wave Pictures, a vinyl-only album recorded around one microphone in one day with all-new songs. Despite this back to basics technique as far as I can tell the sound quality/mix/balance etc seems to be absolutely fine (so why do most bands spend ‘months’ in the studio?).
Lyricist David Tattersall is on top form, the low-key instrumentation of finger-picking guitar, acoustic bass and percussion lending a poignancy to his lovelorn tales, cryptic references and imagery. Highlights include ‘Remains’ (‘a whooper swan fashioning his neck into a noose…’), ‘The Pharmacy’ where never has the ‘soft green light of the pharmacy cross’ sounded so nostalgic and the bitterness of ‘Hot Rain Riding On The Salt Lake’ with gems such as ‘You hung me upside down on a meat-hook..‘ and ‘you ripped the last page out of every book in town..’
In the subtle ‘Thin Lizzy Live And Dangerous’ that raucous masterpiece is playing in the loft as a tongue-tied love is declared.
One of the best tracks is the playful and addictive ‘David In A Field Of Pumpkins’. While crawling around amongst the orange gourds David sings a daydreaming speculation of ‘if I could fly straight over the town I would knock upon your window…’ ; somehow it all makes perfect sense.
They are playing many of these songs live on the current tour and they slot perfectly in with older favourites. With another new album due later this year the brilliant Wave Pictures go from strength to strength.