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- Tongue Under A Ton Of Nine Volters by Meadow House
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I’ve been waiting almost nine years to write about this album after an early version wound its way to the Norman HQ back in 2004 and it somehow found itself on my walkman/CD walkman/iPod/iPad and presumably will stay for whatever listening device comes next.
You may remember Meadow House for the excellent 7” on our own Jonathon Whiskey records back in the days when the internet was in black and white and we delivered records by carrier pigeon. It’s fair to say this is an acquired taste, several of my colleagues have run a mile the second it’s been slipped into the compact disc player but for me this is the kind of eccentric English bonkers-pop that makes my mouth turn upwards tantalisingly close to a smile and my legs move around threatening dance steps.
The prime influence is Syd Barrett - ’Midgefly Larvae Lover’ is as close to ‘The Madcap Laughs’ as it’s possible to get without painting your head green. ‘Minger’ bangs along like a rickety old car careering around a rollercoaster; big, poppy, funny, mental all rolled into one. The sheer breadth of musicianship is close to insane - ‘Lavender Picking’ is full of clanking de-tuned stringy things, ‘The Magicians Apprentice’ is life-affirming jangle pop overtaken by hopelessly de-tuned guitars and sounds exactly like Thinking Fellers Union Local 282. On top of all this the vocal is that quaintly English thing, whimsical and often hilarious.
At times, the aim for purely the funny bone threatens to derail the songcraft. ‘My Window Cleaning Days are Over’ is Robin Asquith meets George Formby but it’s followed by the two finest songs on this album. ‘All Petty Substance Flee’ is gorgeous, a de-robed choirboy musing over splendidly folky acoustic guitar plucks, whilst the best song here, ‘Malaise On Stilts’, powering forward with crashing drums and clanking squeaky guitar. The melody keeps ascending to a tremendous string laden finale which sort of recalls The Beatles albeit one produced by Vivian Stanshall. I must have heard this track a million times yet is still makes the hairs on the back of my neck rise up and salute its brilliance.
As with other artists of this ilk there is a fine line between genius and tomfoolery and there are one or two vignettes you’ll want to skip, but penultimate track ‘Will U be My Friend’ is splurt-your-coffee-all-over-the-keyboard hilarious - it’s The Streets as scripted by an absurdist David Mitchell and like the rest of the album is the work of a clever yet warped and perhaps deranged mind.
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