After beginning this post twice about a different record only to have my attempts thwarted by the goblins which dwell in my computer, I took it as a sign that I should review something else. My original designs were for The Acorn‘s Glory Hope Mountain in an attempt to promote their appearance (rather incongruously) as support for Elbow on their imminent tour. Instead, I shall take a swipe at The Seldom Seen Kid as a marked contrast. The Mercury Music Prize has recently destroyed any faith I had in the residual justice of the music industry, by consistently rewarding musical atrocities since 2006 in a manner not dissimilar to the praise lavished upon the British architectural misdemeanors of the 1960s. In 2006, The Artic Monkeys prompted the domino effect, in demolishing more worthy competition, followed by the Klaxons‘ 2007 selection over Bat For Lashes and New Young Pony Club, and the trend continued in 2008 with Elbow‘s victory over the likes of Laura Marling. Had they been victorious with the brilliant Asleep in the Back in 2001, an incredibly tough year, I would have been more forgiving, but The Seldom Seen Kid is simply not of the same calibre.
Opening with a wholly inappropriate racket, “Starlings” then morphs into Lemon Jelly holidaying in Hawaii, and is further perverted by the frequent protests of an intrusive brass section (causing me to wince on the street), all before the lyrics make an attempt to gain control of the song. What appears to be striving to be a pleasant “Ode to a Mystery Woman” finds only a Byronic hero in its quest for literariness. The track is littered with supposed compliments such as “You are the only thing in any room you’re ever in”, which is destroyed by its objectifying tendencies. On being subjected to the line “Darling, is this love?” my thorough repulsion screamed for itself. Improving slightly with “The Bones of You” in a regression to the tonal quality of Asleep in the Back only the lyrical clumsiness and unecessary distortion are damaging. The highlights consist entirely of the gently reflective “Mirrorball”.
Everything is downhill from there. Beyond an attempt to construct a narrative from the remaining song titles, I don’t feel that any further commentary on the matter is either worthwhile or enjoyable. If a musical cocktail were to be created called “Grounds for Divorce”, it would need only to contain this record. Only a lesbian “Audience with the Pope” could be more awkward, particularly without good “Weather to Fly” home. Saying that, I now believe that I am at one with “The Lonliness of a Tower Crane Driver” whose banshee impersonation is beyond compare, and in need of “The Fix” which may only come from elsewhere. “Some Riot” would undoubtedly result if this were played in a prison perpetually “On A Day Like This”, and it would never become a “Friend of Ours”.
Glory Hope Mountain is rather spectacular, as are The Acorn, and a number of Elbow‘s other records; do buy those instead. Follow the links.