The final album from Scott Miller's legendary power poppers is a more sedate affair than the previous brilliant but bonkers 'Lolita Nation' but this shows the band at their most streamlined and commercially aimed. Still, Miller's songs were too twisted for the general public and it sank without trace. Now re-issued with bonus tracks this is another opportunity to discover this brilliant, adventurous band who, if there was any justice in the world should have been as big as R.E.M.
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- 816651014125PMI / Reissue LP on Warner Bros. First pressing on translucent orange vinyl
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- 2 Steps From The Middle Ages by Game Theory
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I'm sat here feeling really depressed because I just read that another member of this wonderful group - possibly my favourite group ever - has passed away. Drummer Gil Ray follows genius lead singer Scott Miller up to power pop heaven where I hope they can meet and recreate these marvellous songs and I hope both once again have the amazing curly hair they had in the '80s.
Game Theory were, as I never tire of mentioning, my band when I was a teenager and it all started for me with this album when I spotted the tape in the bargain bin at Newcastle Metro Centre's Our Price. I still recall the thrill of hearing 'Room For One More, Honey' for the first time. It sounded just like Let's Active but with even more twisty vocal lines, I couldn't believe it - someone had made an album seemingly designed just for me. In hindsight '2 Steps From The Middle Ages' was Game Theory's slickest album but that's fine when you can play it in a Datsun Cherry with the window wound down pretending you are driving down Pacific Coast Highway. The whole thing is brilliantly breezy with incredible powerful production by Mitch Easter (natch). It's never too straightforward though and even the big rock songs are odd. 'What the Whole Wants' almost has a standard big rock chorus but pulls the rug away that the last minute to head in several different directions seemingly at once. I've just seen 'Amelia, Have You Lost' described as "perhaps the most beautiful ballad in rock music". And it is.The track seems always on the verge of falling apart as Scott Miller reaches for hitherto unheard high notes as he laments his lost love. How the melody finds it's way back down from these heights is anyone's guess but it's fun to hear them attempt it.
There are some simply 'ok' moments which stop the album being a full blown classic 'Wyoming' is rather dull, the sax on 'Rolling With the Moody Girls' is ill advised and I never liked the rather histrionic guitar on 'Leilani' (nor it's unusually predictable chorus).... but everything else. There's just so many great songs I'd be on all day naming them but let's just quickly mention 'Throwing the Election' with it's incredible plaintive melody and an organ outro which recalls Crowded House 'Don't Dream It's Over'.
But it was over by the time this album came out and this was Game Theory's swansong. That they never got the plaudits of say R.E.M still rankles with me but I know deep down that they were too weird and mathematical for mainstream acceptance. They were like Sparks trying to re-make 'Murmur' - odd and beguiling -and this is why I love them so.
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